Halls of Fame QUESTIONS

The Baseball Hall of Fame votes were announced this week. I totally agree with the choices of Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven; I wanted Blyleven years ago. If I had had a ballot, I would have probably voted for the people who came in 1-7, plus 11: Roberto Alomar, Bert Blyleven, Barry Larkin, Jack Morris, Lee Smith, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, Mark McGwire.

Yes, I’d be voting for Mark McGwire, who, assuming he was taking steroids during his career – OK, he was – took them when they were not effectively banned by Major League Baseball. Rafael Palmiero, he of the finger-wagging to Congress that he was clean, then later suffers a suspension over the use of a banned substance, did much worse in the voting than a 500-HR/3000-hit batter would have in a pre-steroid era. I have publicly theorized that his performance in DC definitely cost him; he was not going to make it in his first chance.

Why can’t reliever Lee Smith get more love?

Eventually, I’d vote for Edgar Martinez; it’s difficult for me to pick a pure Designated Hitter, mostly because STILL hate the DH rule. And now that Alan Trammell has only five more years, I would likely start selecting him too. Rafy too, in a couple of years. My working theory is that once a bunch of steroid-era players are on the ballot, McGwire and Palmiero will get inducted, maybe in years 12 to 15 of their 15-year window of eligibility.

Meanwhile, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction list was released a last month, with the ceremony to be held in March. I was really happy to see Neil Diamond on the list, and also Leon Russell as a sideman, or as they are now calling it, the “musical excellence award”; I should get that album Russell did with Elton John. But, of the nominees for this year, the most disappointing omission was the late Laura Nyro. If not as a singer, then she ought to get as a songwriter. Through the pictured album, which is a bunch of cover songs, she’s deserving as a performer as well. -inductees
Alice Cooper, Beastie Boys, Bon Jovi, Chic, *Neil Diamond, Donovan, *Dr. John, J. Geils Band, LL Cool J, * Darlene Love, Laura Nyro, Donna Summer, Joe Tex, *Tom Waits, Chuck Willis

For either or both Halls of Fame, who would you have picked for this year?

Baseball on PBS

Still, the series may be more enjoyable for those less familiar with recent baseball history, or those with lousy memories. And I have to think that if I watch it a decade or more from now, it’ll become more interesting.

I’ve been watching Baseball recently. Not baseball, which I have viewed from time to time, but the TV “two-part, four-hour documentary film directed by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick,” BASEBALL: THE TENTH INNING. I’m a big fan of the original nine-part series and have even borrowed the expansive coffee-table book associated with it.

For me, I think the problem is that much of the information was a bit too recent, and the conclusions drawn generally unsurprising, which is to say, I noted to myself, “Yeah, I thought that, too.”. I remember watching, in real-time, the Braves vs Pirates NLCS, 1992 game 7 with former Pirate Sid Bream beating the throw from left fielder Barry Bonds. I recall well the 1994 strike, and how it almost destroyed the sport.

I remember the 1998 home run race between Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa, which revived the sport; I’m sure I watched, again in real time, probably on FOX Sports, McGwire hit home runs 61 and 62. In fact, when I saw the show, I said, “Number 62 goes right down the left-field line, just over the fence.” I DID forget that at least a sports writer tried to blow the whistle on performance-enhancing drugs, but was ignored; and, of course, I do remember the steroid scandal. Don’t know if I’m projecting, but I sensed a bit of, if not sympathy, then at least understanding about what drew Barry Bonds to steroids. It makes the interesting, if unoriginal point, that by Roger Clemens sullied by the scandal, it made going after Bonds more palatable; Bonds is black, a position player from the National League, and sullen, while Clemens is white, a pitcher from the American League, and at least more civil.

My favorite parts involved, unsurprisingly, the information I did NOT know: the exploitation of the players from the Dominican Republic, and background on Ichiro Suzuki of Japan.

Still, the series may be more enjoyable for those less familiar with recent baseball history, or those with lousy memories. And I have to think that if I watch it a decade or more from now, it’ll become more interesting. Also, for those largely unfamiliar with baseball, the website does contain a great deal of information from the past 20 years. The Tenth Inning will be rebroadcast on November 8 and 15 on PBS.

I did not know this: former Yankees outfielder Bernie Williams has played with Bruce Springsteen.

Speaking of the Yankees, I will definitely have to watch the broadcast of Game Seven of the 1960 World Series between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the New York Yankees, when it will be broadcast on the MLB Network. Film of the game was recently discovered in the wine cellar of the late Pirates’ part-owner Bing Crosby.

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