Posts Tagged ‘Cleveland Indians’

The Hall of Fame and the “Steroids Era”

In Uncategorized on January 11, 2012 at 7:39 pm

Upon his election to the Hall of Fame recently, Barry Larkin was asked about some of the controversial players of his era including Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds and whether they should also be elected to the Hall of Fame. Both will be eligible for election next year. Larkin’s reply ? He said: “All I know is playing and competing against some of these guys, they’re the best—period.”

Barry Larkin is not mistaken. During the “Steroids Era” there were few players on the same level as Bonds and Sosa. But do these players belong in the Hall of Fame when their achievements were clearly not the result of pure athletic skill and training ? In fact, there is no better example of what steroids did for one player’s career than Sammy Sosa. Sosa played for 18 seasons in the Major Leagues. Over his first nine seasons he hit a total of 211 hrs. Over the last nine seasons – including what one would normally consider years in decline because of age – he hit almost twice as many home runs (398). I would add that after his first five years in the majors Sosa had only 74 career hrs and a career batting average bobbing pathetically around .230. He had as much chance of getting into Cooperstown as Joe Azcue.

Which all makes one wonder why Barry Larkin is speaking up for players like Sammy Sosa and Barry Bonds ? I suspect it is because the higher regard his peers are held in, the higher regard Barry Larkin is held in.

Except by people like me.



In Uncategorized on April 28, 2011 at 5:41 am

For no particular reason I was thinking about doubleheaders tonight. Whereas each Major League team used to play a handful of doubleheaders each season, nowadays it is unusual if a team has even one doubleheader on its schedule. And now they are called “day-night doubleheaders” the first game played in the afternoon and the second game in the evening, three or four hours after the conclusion of the first game. Fans of course must buy tickets to two separate games, what is always the coda of the announcement when the “doubleheader” is announced with great ceremony on the radio broadcast. In other words, if you want to go to a doubleheader nowadays you have to buy two tickets, leave the ballpark after the first game, and re-enter the park several hours later. Is this a doubleheader or deceitful marketing ?

Doubleheaders were wonderful because, more than anything else, it meant that you got to watch a game for free. Buy one and get one free. What was more American that. One suspects that owners did not make any money by allowing fans to buy a $ 1.00 bleacher ticket and watch two games over the course of an afternoon. But back then it really didn’t matter. Doubleheaders belonged to an era when the line between baseball as a game and baseball as a business was not so clearly drawn. Doubleheaders were just another baseball tradition that showed up on the schedule year in year out. Fans profited. Owners lost. No one cared becuse it was just baseball.

Doubleheaders gave us some of the greatest single-day performances in baseball history e.g. Stan Musial’s 5 home runs in a DH on May 2, 1954 or Roberto Clemente’s 10 hits in a DH in 1970. If you loved baseball, you especially loved Sundays – because of doubleheaders.

Doubleheaders. Yet another marvelous baseball tradition that greed has banished into obscurity.

Bob Feller and Time

In Uncategorized on December 29, 2010 at 4:43 am

I have been meaning to get around to my Bob Feller memorial post. Unfortunately holiday travel and parenting responsibilities have taken up much of my time recently and I just have not had the time to think about what I wanted to say about Bob Feller. Of course, I never saw Feller pitch. I grew up in the 1970s long after Feller had retired. But every kid who played baseball back then regarded Bob Feller as one of the immortals of the game, along with other players from the same era like DiMaggio, Williams, Musial, Greenberg, et al. Among the Feller lore were the opening day no-hitter against the Yanks in 1940 and the speed demonstration with the US Army artillery machine. Every ten year old kid in 1970 knew these legends.

When I think about Bob Feller more than anything I think about time. To a generation that grew up with Astroturf and the DH, the era in which Bob Feller played was as distant as the Civil War. We were familiar with the great players from 30s and 40s but, as ten-year olds who possessed only a fuzzy sense of historical time we simply could not look back thirty years and comprehend how close Bob Feller’s era was to our own.

If I look back thirty years now to, say, 1980, I recall names likes George Brett, Jack Clark, Steve Carlton, Goose Gossage, Reggie Jackson et al. Far from seeming like another era it feels like only yesterday that I saw these players in action. They are still part of my active memory. To a ten-year old today, however, Steve Carlton is probably as antediluvian as Bob Feller was once for me.

Time is funny. It is one thing to a kid and another thing to an adult.