Top Five Friday – 1/31

In honor of Ernie Banks’ 83rd Birthday today. I proudly present…


Ernie Banks Top 5 Days at the Plate.


#5 Sept 21,1959: Runner up for the 1954 ROY, Ernie reached base via a hit, walk, or hit-by-pitch 3,416 times. This day was the only time he reached 6 times in one game. He had 4 hits and 2 walks.


#4 Sept 29, 1957: 1960 Gold Glove Winner, Ernie had 2,583 hits over his career posting a .274 batting average. This day was the only time that he had 5 hits in one game. He had 2 singles and 3 doubles on the final game of the 1957 season.


#3 May 1,1963: 11 time All-Star, Ernie had 1,636 RBI, that is 29th all-time. This day was one of 3 times that Mr. Cub drove in 7 runs in one game. His two home runs and 7 rbi helped defeat the St Louis Cardinals 13-8.


#2 Aug 4,1955: 2-Time MVP, Ernie hit 512 career Home Runs which was 8th all-time when he retired and is still 29th overall. He hit 3 homers in a game 4 times, including this day when he had 7 rbi and his third and final homer was a two-run shot in the bottom of the eighth that wo the game for the Cubs over the Pirates 11-10.


#1 May 29,1962: 1977 First Ballot HOF Inductee, Ernie Banks had 1,009 career extra-base hits, that was 13th all-time when he retired and is still ranked 34th. On this day Ernie accumulated his most total bases (14) in one game and it was the only time he had 4 XBH’s in one game. Ernie had 1 double and 3 home runs.


There’s my Top 5. What’s yours? 

Top Five Friday – 1/24

Alright, this will be a fairly easy concept, each Friday I will present a Top 5 list. It probably will be baseball related, although not always. It might be Cubs related, but that is certainly no guarantee.

The lists might be strictly fact based (most wins by a left-handed pitcher), but more often than not will be opinion based, my opinion specifically.

 For the subjective lists, I encourage you to leave your thoughts and or personal Top 5 lists in the comment section below. Let’s get started with the first list.


Top 5 Chicago Cubs in the Hall of Fame


#5 Ron Santo: Three years ago Santo would not have made this list. Not because he didn’t have 342 lifetime HR’s, or because he was a 9-time All-Star, or a 5-time Gold Glove winner; but because it incredibly took the baseball writers and various veterans committees 38 years to elect Santo into the HOF.


#4 Ryne Sandberg: Sandberg was the 1984 NL MVP for the team that brought baseball relevance back to the north side of Chicago.


#3 Mordecai Brown: During his 10 seasons with the Cubs, Brown was 188-86 with a 1.80 era.  His ERA+ with the Cubs was 153, that is easily the best of any pitcher to wear a Chicago uniform.


#2 Billy Williams: Sweet Swinging Billy Williams hit 426 career HR’s and had over 1400 RBI. Williams was elected to the HOF in 1987 with 85.7% of the vote. Surprisingly, 1987 was the 6th year that Billy was on the HOF ballot; he received just 23.4% on his first vote.


#1 Ernie Banks:  No mystery here, Ernie IS Mr. Cub. The top 11 single-season HR leaders at Shortstop are held by two players, Ernie Banks and Alex Rodriguez.  Ernie was the back-to-back NL MVP in 1958-9 and was elected to the HOF on his first ballot in 1977


There’s my Top 5. What’s yours?

HOF Vote Done. Maddux, Glavine, Thomas In


So it’s over, the BBWAA has seen fit to elect 3 new members into Baseball’s Hall of Fame; Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas. All three are deserving players and they sailed through the election process, comfortably topping the 75% threshold needed for induction.


Unfortunately they dropped the ball by failing to vote in an obvious HOF caliber player like Craig Biggio. I know this was a crowded ballot, and good arguments could be made for up to 16 different players, but to not make room for Biggio to be in your top 10 among those players is ridiculous.


What makes me more nervous for the short-term HOF prospects of certain players on the ballot this year is that only 4 of the other 27 players that received votes this year got over 50%. Think about that. Only Biggio, Mike Piazza, Jack Morris and Jeff Bagwell were able to get a simple majority of the writers to agree that they are Hall worthy, let alone 75%; and one of those players, Morris, will be off the ballot next year.


And it won’t be any easier next year. While five vote-worthy players (Maddux, Glavine, Thomas, Morris, Palmeiro) were removed from the ballot after this vote, they will be replaced by five new ones next year (R Johnson, P Martinez, J Smoltz, G Sheffield, N Garciaparra).


I would expect pitchers Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez to be locks next year, and I would also think that Biggio will get elected with a percentage around what Thomas got this year (83.7). Holdover players on the ballot will have to wait…….again


Players like Jeff Bagwell, and Mike Piazza and Tim Raines and Mike Mussina will all eventually get into the HOF, it just won’t be in the next couple of years, which is a shame. These players are HOFers. Why must we make them wait.




My 2014 Hall of Fame Ballot

This is the time of year when a fans appreciation for the long history of baseball and the players associated with the game come into focus. It’s also the time of year when I need to stay away from sharp corners; for nothing makes me want to bang my head against the wall more than the annual announcement of results from the Baseball Hall of Fame voting.


Like all the other no-voters out there, I’ve always felt that I know best when it comes to the HOF voting. I mean, I can never be wrong when my vote doesn’t count. Right? Except this year, I really don’t know if I can be right. Which is not to say that I’m wrong, it’s just that with the current ballot I don’t think any one voter could be “right or wrong”.


The 2014 ballot for HOF election has 36 players on it, 16 of whom are very legitimate candidates for enshrinement and an addition 6 that are least worthy a modicum of consideration.  


How did that happen? Well, it’s not like all these great players showed up this year. Some have been on the ballot for 10+ years (Trammell, Morris), some are borderline HOFers (Smith, Mattingly), some are caught up in the PED scandal (Bonds, Clemens),  and of course some are first-timers (Maddux, Glavine).


I want to, and it would be easy to, blame the baseball writers for this backlog of great players on the ballot; but the truth is that there is a combination of factors.


The writers do deserve some blame. Some refuse to vote for first timers on the ballot, like Biggio last year and Barry Larkin or Roberto Alomar in years past. But they’ve also let legitimate HOFers like Raines and Trammell languish on the ballot for far to long.  And now that situation is only going to get worse because the voting procedure is a problem.


The writers are limited to voting for ten players. It might seem like plenty, and most of the time it probably is, but when you look at the ballot this year, 10 is not enough. I’m not sure that allowing voters to chose more than 10 would help, I think we would end up with more “throw away” votes for players like J.T. Snow and Mike Timlin. However, requiring voters to pick 10 might help. Sure, we would still get some throw-away votes, but it would force the writers to consciously vote “against” players instead of just voting for the ones that they want.


And of course, the players are to blame. They are the ones that took the PED’s in the first place. Since McGwire first hit the ballot in 2007, I’ve kind of been against the PED players getting into the Hall, but over the years I’ve softened that opinion.  The lack of complete information about who did or who didn’t use; coupled with undefined quantitative effects of use has me leaning toward a “performance-only” stance when it comes to voting. I will factor in PED’s as a side issue, or tie-breaker if you will, like Alomar spitting in Hirshbeck’s face.


So here is my look at the 2014 HOF ballot in order of years eligible to be voted on.


Jack Morris: Very very good pitcher, not a HOF pitcher. I know, game 7 of WS, I get it; but, postseason era without that game is 4.26


Don Mattingly: Again, good player, but just doesn’t stack up to others at first base position.


Alan Trammell: Yes he should be in HOF, but he falls victim to ballot overload. He is number 11 or 12 on my list.


Lee Smith: I’m torn on Smith, in a less crowded year he might get my vote, not this year.


Mark McGwire: “Performance-Only” he is a yes, but with so many on ballot and the fact that he really is only a marginal candidate when compared to other first baseman (it’s true); I’m going to use my “tie-breaking” PED position and say no for 2014.


Tim Raines: Yes Yes Yes. He had the bad fortune of playing the same time as the greatest lead-off hitter of all-time, R Henderson, otherwise he would have already been in.


Edgar Martinez: Great hitter. Another guy I would like to vote for but he falls just below my 10 cut line.


Fred McGriff: Really close, super consistent for 19 years; a no until backlog clears up.


Jeff Bagwell: Yes. I’m not playing the rumor game here. Numbers are really good in totality against HOF players and particularly other first baseman.


Larry Walker: Did Coors help that much? Not sure. Outside my top 10.


Rafael Palmeiro: Oh this is a tough one. Had an actual positive PED test, but numbers are so huge, 3020 hits and 569 HR’s, that he gets my begrudging vote. Don’t be surprised if real voters give him less than 5% and he falls off ballot.


Craig Biggio: Yes. I’m a big Saber-metric guy, but the crazy thing is, Biggio actually comes up a little short in some comparative analytics, yet he gets my vote. 3000 hits is still 3000, even if it is just an arbitrary number.


Mike Piazza: Yes. Falls in the Bagwell category. Great at his position but comes under rumor scrutiny. I’m not playing that game.


Curt Schilling: Will go in someday. Don’t just look at the win totals, look at K-BB ratio, ERA+ number and his post-season record. He IS who people think Jack Morris was.


Roger Clemens: Personally not a fan, but this isn’t a fan-favorite vote, this is for HOF based on performance. He gets my vote for being one of the best of all-time.


Barry Bonds: Yes. See Roger Clemens above, same comment.


Sammy Sosa: “Performance-Only” he is a yes, probably number 10 on my ballot. Surprisingly, despite 600+ HR’s he is still just under average compared to other HOF right fielders in the Hall when you look at some comparative metrics. I again use my “tie-break” to drop him off.


Greg Maddux: One of the greatest pitchers of all-time. He is this years only sure fire lock to get inducted. One of my greatest pleasures in life was to be able to see him pitch in person multiple times.


Frank Thomas: Yes. Top 10 RH hitter in history of game. Should go in this year, but might fall victim to “first-ballot” voting.


Mike Mussina: He should go in, and will some day, but not this year. When you really look at the numbers, he was real close, if not better than Glavine.


Tom Glavine: Yes. HOF pitcher all the way. Will probably go in with Maddux as the writers create their own HOF stories voting in teammates together.


Jeff Kent: Good, but not great. Has an MVP award but doesn’t stack up as well as I thought he would against other HOF second baseman.


So there it is, my rundown of the 2014 HOF candidates. The results will be released tomorrow and anything less than 4 inductees will bring about my usual disappointment.


5 Reasons to Read Wrigley Regular

It’s been a while since I’ve made a post, almost a full year in fact. There’s no real reason for not posting, not a good one anyway, I just haven’t. But like all things New Year; losing weight, getting into financial shape, reading more books, wasting less time looking at a computer screen and being a better person; I figured this was as good a time as any to re-launch Wrigley Regular.


By re-launch of course, I just mean that I will make more than the one post that I was able to regale you with in 2013.


It’s also not really a coincidence that I’m writing now. It’s Baseball Hall of Fame time, and there isn’t much in this game of baseball that makes me want to bang my head against a wall (or write a post for Wrigley Regular 😉 ) like the voting for the HOF does.


Until I actually write my HOF post, I guess I should give you some reasons to come back here and read this blog in 2014.


The top 5 reasons to read Wrigley Regular in 2014.


1)      My never asked for, never anticipated, doesn’t make a difference in the world; Baseball Hall of Fame post. Yes I know I just spent the last several paragraphs talking about this magical, unwritten at this point, post; and now I’m adding it to this list also. But after all this build up, how could you not come back to read it?


2)      The Cubs should be better this year. I don’t want to make that sound like I’m a band wagon jumper and that I can only be bothered to write about them when they win, but let’s be honest, when a team loses 288 games over three seasons it kind of zaps your will to write about them. Which leads me to next reason.


3)      My posts will be less Cubs-centric. Over the past 7 years I’ve shared season tickets for the Cubs, but for 2014 I gave up my tickets **read that as getting my financial house in order** .  So while I have always been a Cubs fan, and always will be a Cubs fan, I think my big picture on the current game of baseball as a whole needs to improve.


4)      The occasional fantasy baseball post. I know fantasy baseball is a love it/hate it issue for many fans, but I love it and will make several pre-season posts about the topic. Look for the majority of these posts in late Feb and March.


5)      It’s free to read.

So thanks for coming here now, and hopefully I’ll have much more to give you in 2014 to make a return visit worth while.

2013 Hall of Fame Vote

One thing was made perfectly clear to me yesterday; Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, and Sammy Sosa will Never get elected to the Hall of Fame………NEVER!

And that goes for you too Alex Rodriguez and Andy Pettitte and Manny Ramirez.

Not this year, not next year, or 10 or 15 years from now……..Never.

The Baseball Writers of America own the keys to the front door, and you ain’t getting a copy.

And for those of you that think that maybe this was just a First Ballot punishment and that we need to see where the vote totals go next year, forget it. We need look no further than Mark McGwire’s vote totals over the years to give us some perspective.

Yesterday was the seventh time McGwire has been on the ballot, it was also the lowest vote total (16.9%) that he has ever received. He is not moving up with time and perspective, as some have suggested will happen with Bonds and Clemens, he is moving down.

The writers, many of whom in their own way were at least indirectly responsible for the popularity of the “steroid era”, have now determined that they are the moral compass

Sound like a bad deal? Too bad, because the system isn’t changing and you and I don’t get a vote.

While I think fans would always like to see someone go in each year and the writers might get some minor heat for not putting anyone through, the next couple of ballots will give the writers and the HOF itself plenty of cover to avoid calls for any changes to the voting procedures. 

In just the next three years (2014-16), I can see as many as 11 players getting elected into the HOF.
C Biggio
G Maddux
T Glavine
F Thomas
J Kent
M Mussina
R Johnson
P Martinez
J Smoltz
K Griffey Jr
T Hoffman

Electing that many players from one era will allow the writers to easily stay away from the “steroid” guys and the so-called “steroid era”.

However, if there was one way for the “steroid” players to get in, it would be this. A large group of current HOF players would have to stand up en-mass and say that only the numbers matter, not how they were obtained. If Frank Robinson and Hank Aaron and Billy Williams and Johnny Bench and other Hall of Fame players from the 60’s and 70’s said it was ok, then Bonds and Clemens might have a chance; but I don’t believe that will ever happen. So as I said, the steroid guys will never get in.

As for Craig Biggio not getting in, it’s embarrassing.

It is obvious looking at voting patterns from the last couple of years that a large block of writers continue to practice “first ballot” protection voting.

Craig Biggio IS a HOF caliber player and I’m sure he will go in next year. Yet there were plenty of voters out there yesterday that just don’t think he is in the same league as Joe DiMaggio or Jimmy Foxx or Rogers Hornsby or Ted Williams or Eddie Mathews or Juan Marichal or Billy Williams or Etc………and while they might think that and you reading this might think it as well, the HOF plaque doesn’t mention if you are a first or second ballot guy.

Oh; btw. Of the seven HOF players I just mentioned in the last paragraph, only one went in on the first ballot. I’ll leave you to figure out which one it was.

Trade deadline comes, Dempster leads list that go

Ryan Dempster, Paul Maholm, Reed Johnson, and Geovany Soto all are sent packing while the Cubs get 5 minor league players in return. If I had to make a snap judgment right now, I’d have to call the Cubs losers in the trade game. And the losing started when Ryan Dempster said no to the Atlanta trade.


As a 10 and 5 player, Dempster has a certain set of rights when it comes to trades, and I fully support those rights. But if media reports are to be believed, Dempster had listed the Braves as a team that he would be willing to go to in a trade, and then changed his mind when the Cubs actually agreed to a deal that would send Ryan to Atlanta. Apparently Dempster really wanted to go to the Dodgers. While that’s great for him, it put the Cubs on the wrong side of the scale when it came time to negotiate a deal with L.A.  It’s hard to drive a hard bargain when in a trade when one side knows the other side has no other option.


This is where I really credit Jed Hoyer and Theo Epstein. When the Dodgers offered far less than what the Cubs thought Dempster was worth, they just said no. They put the ball back in Dempster’s hand and said we can work out a deal to NY or Texas; or you will just stay in Chicago (and all the fans will know you blocked the Cubs future progress) .


So instead of getting a Major League ready Randall Delgado from Atlanta for Demspter, the Cubs end up sending both Paul Maholm and Reed Johnson for two lower level minor league players.


Then they trade Soto for minor league pitcher Jake Brigham. My friend Steve over at One Strike Away…Twice likes Brigham as a potential 4th or 5th starter in the rotation. I’ll take that in return for an oft injured and disappointing Geo Soto.


Then back to Dempster. With the deadline rapidly approaching, the Cubs went back to the Rangers and worked out a deal that would send Ryan to Texas for two more minor league players. 


Look, I know the Cubs were going to lose Dempster after the season anyway and should be happy that they got some mid-level prospects back in return instead of nothing, but the truth is, it seems like the Cubs didn’t get what us fans thought Dempster would bring in return. After all, if Andrew Cashner brought Anthony Rizzo, shouldn’t Dempster have also brought a top of the list prospect?