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Sports musings

Thursday 9/1/22

* John Rocker is obviously a bad guy. Was a bad guy? I suppose it is possible that John Rocker has changed, but that would seem unlikely. So this is by no means an endorsement of John Rocker the person. He wasn't even that good of a pitcher, which is one reason I find this as surprising as I do: Rocker had 20 postseason appearances and threw 20.2 innings. He gave up no earned runs. His WHIP was .871. Why was this guy, of all people, so effective in the postseason? I have no idea.

* People say that Lou Brock shouldn't be in the Hall of Fame, or only is in the Hall of Fame because he got to 3000 hits. Brock is underrated. Speed mattered in the game when he played it. He was a tone-setter and disrupter. I didn't get to see him play, but he must have been very exciting. Baseball fans never talk about postseason performance, and Hall of Fame people--by which I mean people who go on and on arguing about the Hall of Fame--never do. This is baffling. Brock is one of the greatest postseason performers in the game's history. He hit .391, with an OPS of 1.079 in three series, two of which the Cardinals won in seven games and would not have without Brock. The other series went to seven against the Tigers. Brock it .464 in that one with 2 home runs and 5 RBI, so they wouldn't have gotten that close without him. Great player. Worse in the field than you would have expected, though, with his athleticism.

* Rogers Hornsby is the best right-handed batter of all-time. He won two Triple Crowns. In his first Triple Crown-winning season, he hit 42 home runs, drove in 152 RBI, and batted .401. In his second, he hit 39 homers, drove in 143, and batted .403. These were not even necessarily his best years. The year before the second Triple Crown season he hit .424 and had an OPS+ of 222. Hall of Fame voting was different back then. You could be voted for while you were playing and there wasn't a five-year wait period. As such, Hornsby didn't make it into the Hall until his fifth time on the ballot, when garnered 78.1% of the vote. You need 75%, so he didn't make it by much. Jimmie Foxx got in on this eighth time, with less than 80% of the vote.

* I thought it would be good for me with how much I have been working and how much I will be working to get out this fall where I am not just running stairs or walking many miles so I got season tickets for Boston College football. Money is always a problem right now but I was able to get them for $100. They are curiously playing a night game against Maine on my birthday. I am rarely out after dark, except in the morning, or is that out before the light?

* It seems like the NBA should be the hardest Hall of Fame to get into, but it's relatively easy. Baseball is the hardest. Then hockey, which is surprising, given that I can't think of a less-deserving Hall of Famer in any sport in recent years than Kevin Lowe. Football is both had and easy. It's easy in a way because it's hard to tell. Careers are short. So, if you play for eight years and are an All-Pro twice, you can get in, or you might not. Consider the case of Joe Klecko. In or out? Who knows. Also: Why does Klecko get more consideration than his teammate Mark Gastineau? You can't really tell. There are a lot of guys like that. And you can get in for a very short career (Terrell Davis). Roger Craig should have been in shortly after he stopped playing. Look at his total yardage numbers. He was West Coast Thurman Thomas with Super Bowl wins. Dynasty guys usually go in, which makes his omission even odder. My favorite players--Alan Page, Carl Eller, Andre Tippett, John Hannah, Dan Marino, Chris Doleman--are all in. But basketball doesn't seem to get it. Consider Chris Bosh. Why is he in? He was a one-time All-League selection, with a second team All-NBA nod. Five times he was top twenty in points per game, finishing as high as ninth twice. So why is he in the Hall? Same with James Worthy. Twice he made the All-NBA third team. Once he was top twenty in points per game. That's why he did. That was his value. Scoring. He didn't defend. And the best you can do is to finish eighteenth in scoring once? Further, Worthy was on that 50 Greatest Players list and the more recent NBA 75th Anniversary Team. Why?

* Wilt Chamberlain was a lot better than Bill Russell, and anyone who says he wasn't is playing into that romanticism that has always existed with Russell, not reality. The romanticism of the leader, the romanticism of heroic intangibles and magic super powers of the mind. Russell had Hall of Famers around him everywhere he turned on the court. That was a big part of his success. Great player, but not close to Chamberlain, who is the second best player the league has had.

* The 1988 Chicago Bears and 1988 New York Mets are rather similar. Both lost to teams they should have beat, and both teams ought to have been part of a dynasty or mini-dynasty, which only got the one championship. The 1985 Bears and the 1986 Mets are the most iconic teams of the 1980s in the popular culture. Are they the best? The 1985 Bears are the best football team. The 1984 Detroit Tigers were better than those Mets. The 1985-86 Boston Celtics and some iteration of the 1980s Oilers are the other all-timer teams from that decade. The Oilers did not underachieve. Nor the Celtics, though you would have liked to see one more championship.

* Baseball is unappealing now, so the sport is trying to push this nostalgia theme down people's throats with the Field of Dreams game and whatever that was with the Red Sox and Orioles and the Little League World Series. We're all kids again! We are not. I can't take someone seriously who takes Field of Dreams seriously. It's a bad movie based on a bad book. Someone from the game will die, and I go on Facebook and there are all of these creepy photoshopped images of Vin Scully or whomever being guided into a corn field by Shoeless Joe Jackson. Sorry, but I always think Jackson is going to molest whomever this newly deceased person is. "Come in the corn, boy." Then you have these obese middle aged men saying it's beautiful art. Ah, the world. These are men who could romanticize a Burger King wrapper. "She still had the pickle smell on her." Get out. Get some culture. Experience something real and alive and vital. Come back with a different perspective. This is not great art. This is embarrassing. Don't be detritus in a gutter. Rise up!

* When I get where I am going, I intend to own a 1952 Topps Mickey Mantle. I keep a list of things I plan to do, have, acquire, enjoy. Also: the full set of baseball Hartland statues (as well as select figures from the football and western lines). That's not as pricey. I am about 1/3 of the way there anyway, though those statues are in storage and I won't see them until I get my house back. Various complete sets: mid-1930s Diamond Stars (my favorite), 1956 Topps, 1957 Topps, 1967 Topps, 1971 Topps, 1953 Bowman, all graded. There is artistry in these cards. Also: the 1986-87 Fleer basketball set, and the National Chicle mid-1930s football set.

* If Aaron Judge gets to 62 home runs, that will in part push out Bonds, McGwire, and Sosa from home run history. Many people will look at Judge as the real single-season leader.

* Dave Kingman has become one of my favorite baseball players ever.

* The White Sox are going to use Tony La Russa's health issues as a way to walk away from him. They shouldn't have hired him, it was a dumb move made because one person personally liked him, it predictably didn't work, and that one person in Reinsdorf won't want to fire his buddy, so this will be his way out.

* People talk about the NHL like it's so much faster than it used to be, players have all of these skills they never had, etc. This is false. Around this time of the year, I like to rewatch the 1987 Canada Cup. Here is the complete second game of the Finals between Team Canada and the Soviet Union. It's the best game ever played in any sport. You will never find a hockey game played at a faster pace than this one. The announcers comment on it early on. The best game of Wayne Gretzky's career. He had five assists.

* No one has ever looked better on a baseball card than Hank Aaron. This is his 1958 Topps card.


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