Those Boston Bruins--what can you even say? 19-3. That's less a record one encounters in the NHL--or hockey at any level--and more like the bulk of two seasons from Alabama football near the top of their arc. I thought Jim Montgomery made the right move in starting Jeremy Swayman and trying to get him going after his successful relief appearance the other night. Beating the Lightning twice in about a week is no small thing. The Devils are right there with the Bruins, with their own 19-4 record. Montgomery is a good story. Had his demons with alcohol, attended to the banishing of those demons, and now here he is, thriving in his job.
Numbers give, and numbers take. Bill Madlock is not a Hall of Famer by most people's definition. He will almost certainly never gain entry to Cooperstown. Madlock was a four-time batting champion, which is rather a lot. Remember, the batting title used to mean a great deal. I still think it does, and if one elects not to value it--or batting average--one is showing one's ignorance regarding the sport, and that they're someone who goes along with whatever the vogue of the day is. They'll abandon that vogue when it itself is replaced with the next vogue. But think of this: in 1982, Madlock finished second for the NL batting crown, 12 points behind Al Oliver, who was highly efficient as he got older, and is himself a fringe Hall of Fame candidate. 12 points isn't that much. Let's say that Madlock had won the batting title that year. That would be five titles. I don't think you can win five batting titles and not be in the Hall of Fame. That's just too many. Four--okay. Not five, though. If you played twenty years, that would mean for 1/4th of your career you finished the season as your league's batting champion. Those 12 points are the difference between Madlock not being considered a Hall of Fame by pretty much anyone, and being a definite inclusion. Isn't that something?
The special committee will announce who, if anyone, gets into baseball's Hall of Fame on Sunday, as it turns out. I looked up the date. Many people, as I've said, think Dale Murphy is an obvious choice, but Murphy is not close, as I've also said. It's pretty easy to show why someone doesn't belong. I once mentioned that Murphy only had six good years. Is that enough? They weren't all-time years. They were star-level years. I mean star-level; not Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Stan Musial, Jimmie Foxx, Ty Cobb level. His last star-level year was in 1987, which was his age thirty-one season. That's awfully early to stop being a star if you want to be in the Hall of Fame. Murphy was a power hitter who also could hit for average. His career OPS+ was 121. That's lower for a power guy who is supposed to be elite. Madlock was not a power guy. Remember, slugging is part of OPS+. All the same, Madlock had the higher career OPS+ at 123. Yes, Murphy was good in the field, and that helps, but the candidacy of an outfielder is primarily an offensive proposition. Or for a corner fielder, like Madlock, who mostly played third base. Murphy has trophies, with two MVPs. But six years and a lower OPS+ than Bill Madlock? I don't see how you can justify such a player as a Hall of Famer.
The other day I heard a Boston sports radio host say that Mac Jones is better than Drew Bledsoe ever was. People are so bad at their jobs. There is virtually no one in radio or anyone who speaks on TV as an "expert" who has any real business with that gig. They don't have that job because of talent, intelligence, expertise, or because they honestly deserve that job. Bledsoe is no Hall of Famer himself, but you can't just look at his touchdown to interception ratio in the 1990s and conclude anything. The game was different. To extrapolate, 2004 Tom Brady wasn't a lesser player than 2016 Tom Brady, but how sports are played and adjudicated changes, and, with that, numbers change. Gordie Howe scored 100 points for the only time near the end of his NHL career; it's not like he was better then than he was fifteen years prior.
Bledsoe was Marino-lite in 1994 and 1996 especially. Within the context of how the game was played at the time, and what was expected of quarterbacks, he was one of the best in the league. I don't think Jones will be a starter in the league for long. He has the weakest arm of any NFL quarterback I can think of, or certainly in this era. Even the other night, his stats were misleading. When Jones has favorable stats, or they approach the gaudy--which is very rare for him--I find that those stats are really empty calorie stats, offset by slow decision-making and a failure to excel when it's most important to excel. I don't think the Patriots will ever go anywhere with him, but nor do I think they will ever go anywhere again with Bill Belichick as the coach. They'll have to start over.
Brady in the right environment is still Brady, but Patrick Mahomes stands far above all other quarterbacks in the league right now. Potentially this is someone to join the ranks of Brady, Manning, Montana. I think he can show himself to be better than Montana with the better career, if he wins more titles. Not the other two. Speaking of Marino: he is the best I've ever seen at throwing the football. But that's not all there is to quarterbacking, of course, great as Marino was--and a huge favorite of mine--as a quarterback. It's strange for me to think of as Marino and Chris Doleman being teammates at Pittsburgh, but they were, in 1982.