The National Baseball Hall of Fame will announce its newest members for enshrinement this Wednesday. The conventional wisdom is that two Atlanta Braves pitching greats who won 300 games each, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine (who also pitched for the Mets), were obvious shoo-ins while slugger Frank Thomas and longtime Astros star Craig Biggio, who missed by a whisker last year, could get the necessary 75% from the curmudgeonly members of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
Mike Piazza received a disappointing 57% of the vote last year and while I hope that I am wrong my guess is that he will get close to the magic percentage but won’t get over it this year because (a) the number of very qualified ballplayers who are eligible, and (b) there are too many BBWAA members who believe that you’re guilty until proven innocent when it comes to using steroids. It should be noted that Mike never failed a drug test nor was he mentioned in the Mitchell Report, which fairly or not, gave names of reputed users of performance enhancing drugs. He should have been elected in 2013 which was his first year of eligibility.
If BWAA members are obsessed with keeping players they suspect of using illegal supplements out of Cooperstown then they should give reconsideration to players as Dale Murphy who won two MVP titles but who played on awful teams and thus hurt his stats. Mets third baseman David Wright can identify.
Last month the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee elected former managers Joe Torre, Tony La Russa , and Bobby Cox for enshrinement. Now all three men were great at what they did but all also benefitted from players who are widely acknowledged to have used PEDs. Alex Rodriguez, Jason Giambi, Roger Clemens and Andy Pettitte played for Torre; Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire were managed by La Russa; and finally, John Rocker and Paul Byrd were terrific relief pitchers for Cox. Nobody is asking if they should bear some responsibility for their cheating.
The Veterans Committee did not however see fit to allow the late Major League Baseball Players Association executive director, Marvin Miller, to enter the hallowed halls of Cooperstown. One of baseball’s great wits, Jim Bouton, noted that Miller’s old adversary, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn, already had a plaque in Cooperstown. “That is like letting Wile E. Coyote into the Hall of Fame but keeping out the Road Runner!” said Bouton brilliantly summing up that absurdity.
If you like grueling college hockey, check out Harvard vs Yale this Saturday night at Madison Square Garden. The game is cleverly being billed “Rivalry on Ice.”
It gets surprisingly little publicity but New York once again turned into a cowboy town the first weekend of the new year as the Professional Bull Riders kicked off their season with a three-day competition at Madison Square Garden.
Given Mayor De Blasio’s insistence on getting rid of the horse-drawn carriages around Central Park, one has to wonder if he will try to team with PETA to try to boot the PBR Monster Buck Off from the Garden. PBR officials insisted that the bulls are treated very well and that each bucking bull costs around $100,000. Given that kind of livestock investment I have no doubt that the bovine would be treated like kings.
I can’t say the same for those incredibly brave riders who always get thrown from the bulls. The only question is whether they can last the requisite 8 seconds on those ornery bulls to get prize money.
I liked watching the January 1 NHL Outdoor Classic that pitted the Toronto Maple Leafs against the Detroit Red Wings at the University of Michigan Stadium (a.k.a. “The Big House”) but play-by-play broadcaster Mike Emrick gave me a headache as he screamed with urgency every time someone took a shot on goal. I understand that he had 105,000 people in back of him as he broadcast next to the rink so he had to speak loudly but it was headache-inducing.
Islanders TV voice Howie Rose was in a snit last Thursday night because the Islanders’ Kyle Okposo was not named to the US Olympic Hockey team. Rose basically used the old Rodney Dangerfield bit about the Islanders not getting any respect because they have been an NHL doormat for a generation. Okposo is having a good year but he has had an up and down career with the Isles so I don’t have a problem with his exclusion.
Cablevision/Madison Square Garden CEO James Dolan is truly a renaissance man. In addition to his corporate life, he is the leader of a terrific band, JD & The Straight Shot. Dolan co-wrote a tune, “Violet’s Song,” that the Straight Shot perform in the new Julia Roberts-Meryl Streep film, “August: Osage County.”