Center Stage

For your consideration….

Willie Mays .302/.384/.557 660 career HR’s OPS+ 156

Mickey Mantle .298/.421/.557 536 career HR’s OPS+ 172

Joe DiMaggio .325/.398/.579 361 career HR’s OPS+ 155

Tris Speaker .345/.428/.500 117 career HR’s OPS+ 158

Ty Cobb .366/.433/.512 117 career HR’s OPS+ 167 

Ken Griffey, Jr. .288/.373/.547 611 career HR’s OPS+ 138 

Out In Left

For Your Consideration….

 

Rickey Henderson  .279/.401/.419 297 career HR’s OPS+127

Ted Williams .344/.482/.634 521 career HR’s OPS+ 191

Stan Musial .331/.417/.559 475 career HR’s OPS+ 159

I think that’s enough, but I would be remiss if I didn’t mention…

Barry Bonds .298/.444/.607 762* career HR’s  OPS+ 182

Don’t Get Caught Short

For your consideration….

 

Honus Wagner .327/.391/.466 101 career HR’s OPS+ 150

Cal Ripken .276/.340/.447 431 career HR’s OPS+ 112

Arky Vaugn .318/.406/.453 96 career HR’s OPS+ 136

Luke Appling .310/.399/.398 45 career HR’s OPS+112

Joe Cronin .301/.390/.468 170 career HR’s OPS+119 

Priceless

Want a good laugh in the midst of all the A-Rod stuff?  Check out Letterman’s Top-10 from last night.

I am not sure which is my favorite because #10, #8, #6, #4 and #1 are brilliant.   

Third Choices

For your consideration….

Mike Schmidt .267/.380/.527 548 career HR’s OPS+ 147

George Brett  .305/.369/.487 317 career HR’s OPS+ 135

Eddie Matthews .271/.376/.509 512 career HR’s OPS+ 143

Chipper Jones .310/.408/.548 408 career HR’s  OPS+ 145

Wade Boggs .328/.415/.443 118 career HR’s OPS+ 130 

Random A-Rod Thoughts

I caught almost all of the A-Rod interview and alternated between amazement and empathy.

I would start with the empathy.  There was something incredibly sad about this interview.  It was like you could see A-Rod realizes what this means for his future and would do anything in the world to change it, but he also knows he can’t.  

I found the section where he accused Selena Roberts of breaking into his house fascinating.  He claims to have a police report and if he does then she should be fired from Sports Illustrated.  Now, if he doesn’t have a police report, what the hell is he thinking because that will only make him look worse?

I wish Alex didn’t say things like the stuff he said about Washington Heights.  A-Rod talked about he was born in Washington Heights and would really like to get involved with the kids there.  When I hear that I wonder, why haven’t you before this?  A-Rod could probably throw a baseball from Yankee Stadium to Washington Heights and he has spent five years in the Bronx.  If he wanted to help those kids, he could have long before this, don’t pretend to care now to make your image look better.

I find the whole concept of forgiveness odd.  Does A-Rod owe us as fans an apology?  I don’t think so, I think it goes beyond a singular player to the entire sport.  The owners and the players defrauded us for years.  If anyone is going to apologize, I would like to hear it from Selig and Fehr. 

That being said, I find it very hard to reconcile A-Rod’s statements today with his Katie Couric interview from December 2007.  That was conducted after the Mitchell Report dropped and included A-Rod denying ever using any PED’s.  Why did he agree to that interview in the first place if he was going to lie?  To me, the only answer is that he did it because he assumed he would get away with the lie.   

How do you handle his admission of steroid use in years other than 2003?  On one hand, he didn’t have to do that because he is only accused of failing a test in 2003.  On the other hand, by saying he did it while at Texas he is almost like a doctor taking a diseased limb off a patient.  It’s basically, look at my record from 1995-2000 and then 2004-present and I am clean.  Throw the other stuff out, 158 home runs, etc., and A-Rod is betting he has enough to be a Hall of Famer someday. It’s a pretty smart approach because it gives voters some wiggle rooom.  If A-Rod hits 800 home runs and voters believe his story they can say I am voting for a guy who hit over 600 home runs while clean. 

Along those lines, A-Rod needs to do a little more prep.  It’s probably not the best idea to hold up being 20-years old and finishing 2nd to Juan Gonzalez in the MVP race as evidence that you were clean.  

Why did Gammons start asking questions about Torre’s book when he didn’t follow up on half the steroids questions? And A-Rod handled those brilliantly. 

You know the only thing I think someone like A-Rod could do here is say to the interviewer, "Take a blood sample right here.  I will pee in a cup right here.  Test it for whatever you want, save the samples and keep testing them over the years as the science gets better.  You will not find anything illegal in my samples."  That is about the only way you could ever give him the benefit of the doubt.  And that’s the problem with all of this.  Is there anything you can see right now that you can honestly say is naturally done on a baseball diamond?  I think that is where Curt Schilling is dead right, there are 103 names out there.  There is HGH and other crap out there, until we know that those are being tested how do we know the game is clean? 

And this is a baseball-wide problem.  100 years from now someone is going to open the record books and wonder why all these guys near the top of these lists are also not in the Hall of Fame.  Somebody in the game needs to think about that and come up with an answer.  Maybe we create a wing of the Hall of Fame for players from say 1988 and on?  I don’t have any great ideas, but I know that baseball is damaging its history by ignoring the problem.  

And finally, where is Gene Orza right now?  The allegation that he was tipping off players about steroids tests now moves front and center.  A-Rod said his peace, you can choose to believe him or not believe him, but Orza is next and he needs to speak up. 

The True Test

Now that ARod has admitted using steroids during a 3-year period covering 2001 to 2003, the real test is at hand.  Will baseball fans lend him the same generosity they have offered to other baseball players who have admitted using performance enhancing drugs (PEDs)?

When you consider the case of Andy Pettitte and how he has received far less negative press than those who have initially denied taking PEDs, were exposed and continue to deny taking PEDs like Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.

Perhaps we can argue that ARod’s situation is different because he initially denied ever using PEDs prior to any smoking gun.  But now that there are 4 unnamed sources indicating a positive test in 2003, he is coming clean.  With Pettitte, I don’t recall even a trace of a rumor about him being a user.

No matter what, ARod’s life just got a bit tougher.

The biggest news to me now is that out of the 104 players who tested positive for PEDs in 2003, we now know one name.  I like Curt Schillings suggestion of publishing the other 103 names.  But with that comes the almost certainty that many Red Sox players will be implicated including ones that were potentially a significant part of the 2004 season.

But we are beyond that now.  Everyone is a suspect and the steroid-era has proven that most, if not all of what we witnessed over the past 20 years was artificially inflated.

Consider this, of the names in the top-10 career Home Runs, you have:  #1 Bonds, #6 Sosa, #8 McGwire, #10 Palmeiro (and ARod #12).

For single season HR leaders, spots 1-6 are occupied by Bonds, McGwire and Sosa.

It is time to face it, the game we have enjoyed was kind of like professional wrestling.  Enjoyable (to some) yet, not the real thing (at least they admit it)

My fear is that baseball is still loaded with PEDs.  Perhaps not steroids, but human growth hormone and other drugs I know nothing about.  How can we know?  And how should we feel about the game of baseball if we have no assurances that we are watching something at least close to the real thing?

I’ve been thinking about this a bunch since testing was introduced back in 2005.  I still very much enjoy baseball and for that I’m thankful, but that’s not to say I watch it with the same approach.  Now I’m far more skeptical and less likely to believe what I’m being told.  For every mammoth home run I see hit, I can’t help but wonder how it went as far as it did.

Second To None

For your consideration at second….

 

Joe Morgan .271/.392/.427  268 career HR’s OPS+ 132 (We are not factoring in his broadcast career which would obviously disqulaify him)

Ryne Sandberg .285/.344/.452 282 career HR’s OPS+ 114

Rogers Hornsby .358/.434/.577 301 career HR’s OPS+ 175

Nap Lajoie .338/.380/.467 83 career HR’s OPS+ 150

Jackie Robinson .311/.409/.474 137 career HR’s OPS+ 132

Roberto Alomar .300/.371/.443 210 career HR’s OPS+ 116 

Fascinating

Great piece today by Jon Heyman about how the union and specifically, Gene Orza, screwed up with this steroids issue.  If Orza had just accepted the results of the 2003 testing and not tried to fight them, the evidence would have been destroyed and we never would have learned about A-Rod’s test.  But, while Orza was fighting, the evidence was subpoenaed by the BALCO investigators and now the feds have it. 

And there are two very good points in the article.

1- Orza tipped A-Rod off about a test in 2004.  That will have huge ramifications if proven true.

2- There are 103 other names on that list and you have to expect those will start to come out soon.   

On To First

How About….

 
Lou Gehrig .340/.447/.632 493 Career HR’s 179 OPS+

Jimmie Foxx .325/.428/.609 534 Career HR’s 163 OPS+ 

Harmon Killebrew .256/.376/.509 573 Career HR’s 143 OPS+ (Played more games at first than any other position which brings me to…)

Ernie Banks .274/.330/.500 512 Career HR’s 122 OPS+ 

Willie McCovey .270/.374/.515 521 Career HR’s 147 OPS+

Some other notes: Mark McGwire 583 HR’s, Rafael Palmeiro 569 HR’s also played first, let’s leave it at that.