briefly, an opening day devotional

I bared my soul yesterday to a co-worker I hardly know at all. I did not realize it at the time. It is wasted if left there. It is possibly less-wasted here and is presented unedited.

***

Apr-3 4:20 PM

For me, it’s love. I stopped playing baseball when my parents moved us from Plover to Stevens Point (and the uniforms in Point’s Little League were generic and lame, while Plover’s were actual kiddie ML kits, stirrups and all. I was stupid; some things never change.)

I lost interest in baseball, then went to college in Minnesota, where I lived about three blocks from the Metrodome. The Twins, who were execrable for years, started making the postseason (Johan Santana, Torii Hunter, before Mauer and Morneau.) October baseball, and living in that for a month one fall, made me swoon.

I started reading the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel daily, following the Brewers, who were in those years, charitably described, utter and complete butt. I write and occasionally turn a decent phrase, so I got suckered into the writers there (Haudricourt, Drew Olson, Dale Hoffmann, then Bob McGinn, Cliff Christl and the Packers writers.)

Baseball somehow tied itself into the deepest part of my soul. It’s love.

***
Whatever noun connects itself to the deepest part of your soul–your natural talent or gifting, a place that sinks deeply into your conscious, a person who makes you feel like half-person, half-chasm without them–that noun is only there because it is rooted in love.
Don’t ever risk those nouns.
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briefly, hall of fail and ken griffey, jr.

Yesterday, I published a critical reevaluation of Ken Griffey, Jr’s career at Outside Pitch. You can read that here.

When pressed to provide the case for Griffey, after they’ve finished scoffing and guffawing, nearly everyone I’ve seen online says the same thing in no particular order: 1) 630 home runs, 2) sweet swing, 3) defense, 4) sartorial choice in headwear during a home run exhibition, 5) baseball cards, particularly his 1989 Upper Deck rookie card and the 1992 horizontal stop-motion of said swing.

We’re not talking about Mays or Aaron. (Seriously, go look up how many hits Mays, and especially the Hammer, had!) This was a very good player who only peaked–and what a peak!–for maybe five of 22 years and then spent the back nine of his career injury-prone and a shadow of past greatness.

For most of his career, peak notwithstanding, he was above-average and excellent in CF. So was Jim Edmonds. So was Kenny Lofton. So was Bernie Williams. So was Tim Raines. So was Jeffrey Hammonds. He also played in three very friendly hitters parks, which would also play well to his defensive prowess. Still, outs are outs, assists are assists. Those defensive numbers amaze me. He was likely a better OF than Mays was, save for the arm.

And now that those who haven’t actively covered the game are being culled from the herd, we’re discovering that the electorate is star-struck by highlight reels and fancy-pants baseball cards to the point that the guy who just set a new election record was essentially Larry Doby, the extended edition. Doby’s in the Hall, but he’s never in the conversation for GOAT, nor should he be.

Perhaps those old battle axes knew a thing or two after all. I have even less faith in the HOF process than I did before. Even in something as trivial as baseball, style now matters more than substance.

briefly, hall of fail, 2015 edition

This edition of the Hall of Fail–wherein the author unloads a jeremiad against the Base-Ball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) because of their fecklessness and outright insanity–will be quite brief.

This year, they mostly got it right. This afternoon, first ballot pitchers Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz and third-year candidate, Houston Astros lifer Craig Biggio, were elected to enshrinement in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. All are deserving, and finally, that 1-2-3 Braves rotation stomach punch of Maddux, Glavine and Smoltz is all together in Cooperstown.

Tim Raines and Alan Trammell continue to be criminally undersupported as their eligibility wanes, while Biggio and fellow Astro, the  five-tool monster first baseman Jeff Bagwell, should have been enshrined together.

The ballot remains arbitrarily limited to ten selections, though it appears that the electorate seems to finally be recognizing that the system is in need of reform. Talk of raising the limit to 12 is swirling and appears to be a real possibility, while the sensible solution of a straight up-or-down vote on each nominee still makes too much sense.

For the first time in a while, there isn’t much to be upset about. No one got outright Biggio’d this time, Mike Piazza, garnering about 70% of the vote, looks to be elected next year. Hopefully Bagwell can get the push he needs, too. Now the questions can begin to move away from the gatekeepers and back to the players; that is to say, we can start really talking about what makes the Hall of Fame conversation so much fun.

We can talk about baseball. That, above all, is a good thing.

Brewers pitchers and catchers report in just over 50 days. Not that I’m counting the days or anything.