December 8, 2021

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Meet the New Members of This 12 months's Baseball Corridor of Fame Poll

Meet the New Members of This Year's Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

The Baseball Corridor of Fame unveiled the new writers’ ballot on Monday, and complex solely begins to explain it. That is the ultimate look for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Curt Schilling, and the primary for David Ortiz and Alex Rodriguez. Every has a protracted historical past of boldface headlines, for causes on and off the sphere.

Eleven others are making their debut on the poll, and it’s a embellished group: three Most Priceless Participant Award winners (Ryan Howard, Justin Morneau, Jimmy Rollins), two Cy Younger Award winners (Tim Lincecum, Jake Peavy), two All-Star M.V.P.s (Carl Crawford, Prince Fielder), two closers with 300 saves (Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon) and two others with a number of All-Star appearances and a World Collection championship (A.J. Pierzynski, Mark Teixeira).

With apologies to Ortiz and Rodriguez — there’s no lack of written phrases about both man — right here’s our annual salute to the opposite newcomers up for election to Cooperstown.

Someday within the spring of 1999, the Seattle Mariners labored out a child from Houston who had a scholarship to play quarterback at Nebraska. He additionally performed middle discipline and the draft was developing. “What’s his title?” I requested an onlooker, who instructed me it was Carl Crawford.

Zipping across the Kingdome turf and lashing liners from the batting cage, he appeared fairly good to me. It was straightforward to think about Crawford becoming a member of or succeeding Ken Griffey Jr. in Seattle, however the Mariners didn’t see it that approach. They drafted two different gamers within the first spherical, spending greater than $3 million on their bonuses. Neither reached the majors.

Crawford was the primary decide of the second spherical, when the Tampa Bay Satan Rays, then a reasonably aggressive second-year franchise, snagged him for $1.245 million. Crawford would wind up with extra wins above alternative (39.1) than anybody in his draft besides Albert Pujols. He led the American League in triples and stolen bases 4 occasions every, and hit the primary World Collection residence run in Rays historical past.

Years later, I requested Crawford about that exercise. He stated he hadn’t carried out very properly; he was drained from a protracted flight. He ended up hitting .342 in his profession towards Seattle, his greatest common towards any A.L. crew — and in 2018, two years after his final recreation, the Mariners traded for his distant cousin, J.P. Crawford. He’s now their on a regular basis shortstop.

In 2016, when his profession ended due to two spinal fusion surgical procedures, Fielder was solely 32. At a information convention in Arlington, Texas, he wore a neck brace as he sat beside his two sons: “I’ve been in a giant league clubhouse since I used to be their age,” he stated.

Fielder was born in 1984 (that’s the reason he wore No. 84 for the Rangers), and his father, Cecil, reached the majors the subsequent yr. Prince was 14 in Cecil’s final season, spent largely with the Angels in 1998. I coated that crew and keep in mind Prince taking batting apply, launching bombs over the best discipline scoreboard in Anaheim. He would retreat to the dugout and sit there alone for some time, gazing on the discipline. He knew he would play there for actual sometime. All people did.

In 2007, Prince, simply 23 on the time, turned the youngest participant to hit 50 residence runs within the season when he did it for Milwaukee. He would end with 319 homers, the identical as Cecil. Sadly, they have been estranged for a few years. However by the point Prince joined the Rangers, in 2015, the fissure had apparently healed. “It’s fairly cool,” he instructed USA Right this moment then. “Actual cool.”

In 2004, Howard performed 29 video games for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre Purple Barons. That very same yr, the pilot was shot for the American model of “The Workplace,” a sitcom a few paper firm in Scranton, Pa. As a nod to the native baseball crew, a personality was named Ryan Howard.

The participant and the present continued on comparable trajectories. The Philadelphia Phillies promoted Howard to the majors. NBC picked up “The Workplace” for its prime-time lineup. For some time, Howard was the sport’s premier slugger, the most important leagues’ chief in homers (262) and runs batted in (796) from 2006 via 2011. “The Workplace” turned a powerhouse of its personal in these years, one of many funniest exhibits on tv and a future streaming sensation.

However in 2011, Howard tore his Achilles’ tendon whereas grounding out to finish a playoff sequence, and Steve Carell left “The Workplace.” The participant and the present have been by no means the identical, however they did come collectively for an episode in 2013, when Howard made a pitch to Jim and Darryl’s new sports activities advertising and marketing firm for a movie primarily based on his nickname.

“Half biopic, half superhero film,” Howard says. “A gentle-mannered skilled baseball participant, Ryan Howard, hits a house run into outer area. Ball comes again with stardust on it, which transfers him into: ‘The Massive Piece.’”

Subsequent time you step over a puddle of slush, consider Tim Lincecum — or, extra particularly, this description of him by Roger Angell for The New Yorker in 2010: “Look ahead to that mound-eating stride of his: he’s a January commuter arching over six toes of slush. No, no — have a look at the lean, the twist and torque, the flying arms, the steadiness misplaced and regained, the thin bod, the high-school hair: he’s an X Video games skateboarder headed for the Olympics. No one has ever pitched like this earlier than.”

A pitcher’s stride usually measures about 80 or 85 p.c of his top. Lincecum, who’s 5 toes 11 inches, had a seven and a half foot stride. He would twist his again to the plate, thrust his glove to the sky after which whirl his physique towards the hitter, his pitches exploding with startling energy.

In his four-year run as an All-Star, from 2008 via 2011 with the Giants, Lincecum led the majors in strikeouts (977) whereas successful two Cy Younger Awards and the primary of three championship rings. He was by no means elite after that, however starred in aid within the 2012 World Collection and threw no-hitters in every of the subsequent two seasons.

That gave Lincecum a number of Cy Youngs, a number of World Collection titles and a number of no-hitters. Just one different pitcher in baseball historical past could make that declare: Sandy Koufax.

When Derek Jeter bought as shut as he ever would to a Most Priceless Participant Award, in 2006, he was runner-up to Morneau, the primary baseman for the Minnesota Twins. When Josh Hamilton staged probably the most breathtaking home-run derby spherical ever, at Yankee Stadium in 2008, he was also runner-up to Morneau.

Two years later, Morneau was hitting .345 in early July when he slid into second base to interrupt up a double play in Toronto. His helmet collided with the best knee of the Blue Jays’ John McDonald, and Morneau pulled himself from the sport. It was his second concussion — he’d been hit within the head by a pitch in 2005 — however not his final; a diving play at first base ended his 2011 season in August.

“If something good comes of it, it’s the truth that if mother and father see us massive guys, skilled athletes, lacking good chunks of time, they’re going to take it critically and never rush their highschool children again on the market to play a soccer recreation,” Morneau told me in 2012, two years earlier than he received a batting title for Colorado. He added later: “If mother and father can notice that and get previous the truth that it’s not a sore hamstring, it’s not a sore elbow or one thing you’ll be able to grind out and play via, there’s one thing to be stated for that.”

Not each baseball stadium has a reputation as charmless as, say, Assured Fee Area or LoanDepot Park. Take into account the Lengthy Island residence of the Stony Brook Seawolves: Joe Nathan Area.

Nathan was pitching for the Twins in 2011, on his strategy to 377 profession saves, when his alma mater opened the ballpark with assist from his $500,000 donation. The subsequent yr, the Seawolves marched to their first School World Collection in Omaha.

When Nathan performed for Stony Brook, within the mid-Nineties, this system was Division III and he was a shortstop. Drafted by the Giants in 1995, he batted .232 and was instructed to turn out to be a pitcher. As an alternative, Nathan returned to Stony Brook to earn his enterprise administration diploma.

“I went in with my buddy to see what stockbrokers do,” he instructed the Minneapolis Star Tribune in 2004. “I did it for like every week. I couldn’t try this. They’re on the cellphone for like eight, 10 hours a day. And that’s not me.”

Immediately, the mound appeared extra interesting. Nathan requested the Giants if he might return in 1997, and two years later he was within the majors. He stayed for 16 seasons.

The Purple Sox introduced in Dave Henderson to throw the ceremonial first pitch earlier than Sport 3 of their 2009 division sequence with the Angels. Henderson, after all, had homered in Anaheim when the Purple Sox have been right down to their final strike within the 1986 playoffs, sparking a well-known comeback. “That was dangerous luck,” the Angels’ Torii Hunter stated later, and was it ever.

Papelbon had thrown 26 ⅔ scoreless innings in his postseason profession when he stood on the mound at Fenway later that afternoon, needing one strike to increase the sequence. He by no means bought it. In a ghastly sequence — single, stroll, double, intentional stroll, single — the Angels stormed again off Papelbon and received the sequence. He by no means pitched within the postseason once more.

However he’ll at all times have the last word nearer’s spotlight: hanging out a batter to win the World Collection. Papelbon did it in 2007 in Colorado, blowing a fastball previous the Rockies’ Seth Smith. That should have been additional candy for Papelbon, as a result of he went to Mississippi State and Smith went to Ole Miss.

He didn’t precisely protect the ultimate ball for posterity, although: that low season, he stated that his French bulldog, Boss, ate it. Possibly.

“In case you consider it, you consider it; in case you don’t, you don’t,” Papelbon later instructed reporters, cryptically. “What can I say?”

Greater than 60,000 followers jammed into Qualcomm Stadium for a midday recreation below the San Diego sunshine on June 22, 2002. It was the most important crowd within the majors that season, and the Yankees have been on the town. Jake Peavy, who had simply turned 21, was making his main league debut on nationwide tv. It didn’t begin properly.

Alfonso Soriano led off with a double, and with one out, Jason Giambi doubled him residence. Then Peavy held the Yankees hitless till the seventh inning. “It was the fun of my life once I walked off the sphere and bought a standing ovation,” he stated.

There can be many extra thrills to return. Peavy lost that first game for the Padres, 1-0, however shortly established himself as a star; 5 years later he won the National League Cy Young Award, main the league in wins (19), earned run common (2.54) and strikeouts (240) for the pitching triple crown.

Peavy by no means bought one other Cy Younger vote however endured for 9 extra seasons, at all times making a powerful first impression. Traded on the deadline thrice in six years, he went 3-0 for the White Sox in 2009, 4-1 for the Purple Sox in 2013 and 6-4 for the Giants in 2014. He ended these final two seasons with a World Collection parade — and even purchased a Boston Duck Boat for $75,000.

When he was 38 years previous, with Atlanta in 2015, Pierzynski did one thing no one else that age has ever performed — he caught 100 video games and batted .300.

“By no means had any arm issues in any respect,” he stated the subsequent spring coaching, earlier than his final season within the majors. “By no means had again issues, by no means had leg issues. I’m 39 years previous now. I am going to my children’ faculty, they usually’re like, ‘How do you squat?’ I don’t even give it some thought. It doesn’t damage. It’s my job. It’s what I do.”

Pierzynski did that job 1,936 occasions, logging extra video games behind the plate than Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Mike Piazza and Ted Simmons. He by no means received a Gold Glove, however he was a profession .280 hitter with first rate pop who helped the 2005 Chicago White Sox win a title. He was brash and outspoken, so some people missed what he was all about.

“Individuals concentrate on quite a lot of issues about Pierzynski,” Simmons stated, earlier than Pierzynski’s final season. “No one focuses on the truth that he’s a reasonably sensible man. That’s what impresses me most about him, as a result of out right here, there’s no place to cover. In case you’re faking it, it’s only a matter of time — and never very lengthy — earlier than you get smoked out as an impostor.”

Not surprisingly, Pierzynski now pairs that deep information of the sport with refreshing candor as considered one of baseball’s higher coloration analysts for Fox Sports activities.

The Phillies introduced Rollins to the majors for good in 2001, and as quickly as he bought there, he led the N.L. in stolen bases with 46. He couldn’t wait to do it, it appeared, which made sense: Rollins is a local of Oakland who idolized Rickey Henderson.

“I used to steal bases with him in my lounge,” Rollins stated. “I’d slide into the sofa and the whole lot.”

Rollins would end with 470 stolen bases, a complete Henderson reached when he was 25 years previous. However the recreation has modified so much for the reason that prime of Henderson, who had a document 1,406 steals, and Rollins’s complete ranks fifth within the 2000s, trailing solely Juan Pierre, Jose Reyes, Ichiro Suzuki and Carl Crawford.

“These slide steps, these defensive shifts, guys not eager to ‘give away outs’ — they’re stopping the working recreation,” Rollins stated earlier than the 2016 season, his final within the majors. “They determine in case you’re not secure 80 p.c of the time, it’s not well worth the gamble. And it didn’t was once that approach.”

Rollins was way more than a speedster. He was an all-around offensive power who set the franchise document for hits — and as an oracle, he was Philadelphia’s Joe Namath. Earlier than the 2007 season, Rollins proclaimed that the Phillies, who had missed the playoffs for 13 consecutive years, have been the crew to beat within the N.L. East. They went on to win the subsequent 5 division titles and a championship in 2008.

There are 39 switch-hitters in main league historical past who had 8,000 plate appearances. Solely three have a greater on-base plus slugging share than Teixeira’s .869 — Mickey Mantle, Chipper Jones and Roger Connor, who performed within the 1800s. Of these three, solely Jones possible noticed a lot of the pitch that modified the sport for switch-hitters.

“The cutter,” Teixeira stated in 2016, once I requested him to call the most important change in pitching since his debut in 2003. “As a switch-hitter, the cutter has modified the sport for me greater than another pitch, as a result of when it’s a must to cowl each side of the plate, it makes your job so much tougher.

“When guys would throw four-seamers in, you form of know if it’s a ball or a strike and you’ll determine if you wish to swing at it. If it’s a two-seamer, it’s going to return again over the plate, as a switch-hitter. So I’m at all times seeing the ball form of going away from me. Sliders are down and in, so hey, lay off the ball down.

“However you’ll be able to’t inform {that a} cutter’s going to be a cutter — after which it strikes a foot in in your fingers. I actually consider — as a result of I’ve seen the most effective changeups, the most effective sliders, the most effective four-seamers, I’ve seen the most effective of all pitches — {that a} good cutter equalizes the whole lot else.”

Teixeira stated one thing else in that dialog that has at all times caught with me. When a tall pitcher throws a curveball, he stated, it appears to be dropped from the highest of a ladder. That makes it particularly tough to attach, in comparison with one other form of pitch.

“Now, give me a 100-mile-an-hour fastball, straight, within the zone, I’ll hit it each time,” Teixeira added, matter-of-factly. “I’ll not get a success, however I’m going to hit it.”

I’m certain I simply nodded politely as he stated it. However inside I used to be considering: massive league hitters, man. They’re just a bit completely different from the remainder of us.

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