Matthews: Mariano First Unanimous Hall Of Famer?

posted by Bob Matthews - 

CAN MARIANO RIVERA BECOME THE FIRST UNANIMOUS HALL OF FAMER?

Baseball’s six-man Hall of Fame Class of 2018 was inducted Sunday in Cooperstown.

If I had a Hall of Fame ballot for the Class of 2019, I’d pick six more players and leave four spots blank.

In order of preference:

1—Mariano Rivera. Would you complain if the Yankees superstar became the first unanimous pick in Hall of Fame voting? He’s a cinch to be selected in his first year of eligibility but probably won’t top Ken Griffey Jr.’s record of appearing on 99.3 percent of the ballots because a few voters will downgrade a relief pitcher – even the all-time leader in saves (652 – number 2 Trevor Hoffman had 601 saves)

He appeared in 1,115 games (including 10 starts) and had an 82-60 record and a 2.21 career ERA. In 1,283 2/3 innings, he allowed only 998 hits, with 286 walks and 1,173 strikeouts.

The capper was his amazing pot-season performance line: 8-1 record; 42 saves; 0.70 ERA; 96 games; 141 innings; 78 hits allowed; 21 walks; 110 strikeouts.

In his prime, his cut fastball was one of the toughest pitches to hit in baseball history. He didn’t reach the majors until he was 25 and at age 43, in his final season in 2013, he had a 6-2 record, 44 saves and a 2.11 ERA at age 43.

2—Edgar Martinez. The all-time best designated hitter. That shouldn’t he held against him by Hall of Fame voters because he’d have been Seattle’s full-time third baseman if not for the DH rule. Career BA .312. OPS .933. His last year on the ballot will help. Leading vote count (70.4 percent) among those not elected last year.

3—Mike Mussina. Very consistent. At least 11 wins every season 1992 through 2008. 270-153 (.638) career record. Top 6 in Cy Young balloting nine times. 7 Gold Gloves. Only knocks: relatively high 3.68 ERA for a Hall of Famer and modest post-season numbers, including a 7-8 record.

4—Barry Bonds. 7-time MVP. All-time HR leader (762). 56.4 percent last year.

5—Roger Clemens. 7-tme Cy Young Award winner. 57.3 percent of votes last year.

6—Curt Schilling. 216-146 record. Cy Young finishes 2-2-2-4...Excellent in postseason: 11-2 record, 2.23 ERA. His conservative political views should not hurt him in the balloting but probably have and will.

Maybe later – Andy Pettitte...Omar Vizquel...Roy Halladay...Larry Walker (underrated; before fellow Colorado Rockie Todd Helton).

JOEL SKINNER GAVE ROOKIE JIM THOME A BIG BOOST

Rochester Red Wings manager Joel Skinner would’ve enjoyed being in Cooperstown for Sunday’s Hall of Fame induction ceremonies. He was a pal of new Hall of Famer Alan Trammell growing up in San Diego and played a role in Jim Thome’s early career with the Cleveland Indians.

Phil Miller of Minnesota’s Star Tribune wrote that the Indians were playing the host New York Yankees Oct. 4, 1991. Rookie Thome had no home runs in his first 25 games when he was due up against curveball-specialist closer Steve Farr late in the game.

Thome had broken his favorite bat earlier in the game and veteran teammate Skinner handed him his bat: “Hey kid, use this one.” Skinner recalled, “You could see he didn’t have any bats and mine had plenty of hits left in them.”

Skinner also advised Thome to expect a fastball on the first pitch from Farr. Thome hit it into the upper deck for his first of 612 career home runs.

Skinner became a confidante, coach and briefly a manager for Thome, who said, “He (Skinner) is one of the best human beings I’ve ever met, in baseball or out of it. I owe him so much.”

GUERRERO JR. FINALLY REACHES BUFFALO

Vladimir Guerrero Jr., baseball’s No. 1 prospect, finally has been promoted to Buffalo and is expected to make his International League debut with the Bisons Tuesday.

The 19-year-old third baseman is expected to be in the 2019 Opening Day lineup for the Toronto Blue Jays.

He pulverized Eastern League pitchers in 61 games this season for the New Hampshire Fisher Cats: .402 batting average (94-for-234); 48 runs; 19 doubles; 1 triple; 14 HRs; 60 RBI; 21 walks; 27 strikeouts (already a more disciplined hitter than his Hall of Fame father ever was); .449 on-base percentage; .671 slugging percentage; 1.120 OPS.

The Bisons – hopefully including Guerrero if the Blue Jays can resist the temptation to promote him before major-league rosters expand on September 1 – will play the Red Wings at Frontier Field August 28 (doubleheader), 29 and 30.

BOEHEIM’S ARMY SHOT DOWN BY MARQUETTE GUNNERS

Boeheim’s Army, consisting of former Syracuse U. stars, lost 90-86 to the Golden Eagles (mostly former Marquette players) Sunday in the Final 8 of the single-elimination, $2 million winner-take-all The Basketball Tournament in Atlanta.

Boeheim’s Army was led by 36-year-old Hakim Warrick, who dominated inside and scored 24 points. Another plus was 30-of-33 from the foul line. But they were only 6-of-23 from the 3-point line.

The Golden Eagles were an amazing 20-of-37 from long range, including the game-winning shot by 36-year-old Travis Diener. The Golden Eagles were a mere 4-of-8 from the foul line.

HASKELL STAKES SHOULD BE A STAR-STUDDED AFFAIR

Triple Crown champion Justify was retired last week but the gem of the Saratoga Race Course season – the Travers Stakes August 25 – is shaping up as a beauty even without him.

Favorite Gold Magic cruised to an easy victory in Sunday’s Haskell Invitational at Monmouth in New Jersey, but he figures to be facing a tougher field in the Travers. Potential starters include Hofburg (won the Curlin Stakes last Friday), Tenfold (won the Jim Dandy last Saturday), Gronkowski (second to Justify in the Belmont Stakes) and possibly the filly Wonder Gadot, winner of the Prince of Wales Stakes last Thursday at Fort Erie. She’s named after Wonder Woman Gal Gadot.

RYAN PRESSLY COULD BE BIG HELP FOR ASTROS

Ryan Pressly impressed in his potions of three seasons in the bullpen for the Rochester Red Wings. He has exceptional breaking stuff and throws hard enough to be effective in the majors. He led the Twins with 51 pitching appearances this season when he was traded last week to Houston for two promising young prospects.

Record with Rochester 2015-15-17: 49 games; 3-6 record; 10 saves; 2.91 ERA; 80 1/3 innings; 66 hits allowed; 32 walks; 93 strikeouts.

Record with Minnesota in 2018: 51 games; 1-1 record; 3.40 ERA; 47 2/3 innings; 69 strikeouts in 77 1/3 innings.

Pressly is 29 and the Twins know he has the stuff to help the Astros now and in the future. But Minnesota believes relief pitching is a strength of the farm system and decided to deal him for 19-year-old outfielder Gilberto Celestino (hitting .323 for Tri-City in the NY-P League, with 8 doubles, 4 HRs, 21 RBI and 14-for-14 stolen bases in 34 games) and 22-year-old pitcher Jorge Alcara who throws in the high-90s and has reached 100 mph.

SPRAYING BASEBALL HITS TO ALL FIELDS

Sunday’s induction ceremonies at the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown drew 53,000 people – second only to 82,000 in 2007 for Cal Ripken Jr., and Tony Gwynn. There were a record 57 Hall of Famers in attendance, including new inductees Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome, Trevor Hoffman, Jack Morris  and Alan Trammell.

Baltimore’s Chris Davis had 2 HRs and 4 RBI in Sunday’s 11-5 home won over Tampa Bay. It’s tough to go too far overboard. Davis is batting .159 (51-for-320) with 13 HRs and 35 RBI for a team with a 32-74 record and 41 ½ games behind first-place Boston in the AL East.

The Mets won 1-0 in Pittsburgh as Zack Wheeler pitched six strong innings and drove in the game’s only run. The Pirates are 15-4 in their last 19 games.

Nathan Eovaldi worked seven shutout innings and J.D. Martinez had all three RBI (MLB-best 89) in Boston’s 3-0 home win over Minnesota. The Red Sox are 18-4 in their last 22 games and a MLB-best 26-5 in day games. They’re pretty good in night games, too.

Cleveland has the biggest division lead in MLB – nine gamers in the AL Central – after an 8-1 win in Detroit. Corey Kluber is 14-1 in his last 15 decisions versus division opponents.

The Houston Astros lost their fourth straight gamer – 4-3 at home to Texas. The Rangers won each of the three games in the series to become the first team to sweep Houston this season. The Astros (67-48) are playing minus their injured DP duo of 2B Jose Altuve and SS Carlos Correa.

2017 Red Wing Daniel Palka, as a pinch-hitter in Sunday’s 7-4 Chicago White Sox loss to Toronto, hit his 16th home run of the season.

The Chicago Cubs lead Milwaukee by 1 ½ games in the NL Central after a 5-2 win in St. Louis. The Cubs scored three unearned runs in the fifth inning. The Cardinals lead MLB with 85 errors. The Cubs have a MLB-most 34 come-from-behind wins this season.

The last nine starts by Boston’s Chris Sale: 6-1 record; 0.75 ERA; .153 OBA; 60 innings pitched; 32 hits allowed; 12 walks; 97 strikeouts.

Tony Cloninger has died at age 77. He had a 113-97 career record, including 24-11 with Milwaukee in 1965. He hit two grand-slam home runs and 9 RBI in Atlanta’s 17-3 victory over the host San Francisco Giants in 1966.

TWO OF OUR FORMER PRO TEAMS COULD BE TITLE-BOUND

The first year Dallas Rattlers, formerly the Rochester Rattlers, have clinched first place in Major League Lacrosse with a 10-3 record and one regular-season game remaining. They’ll host the MLL’s fourth-place team in the semifinals Saturday, August 11.

Dallas lost 13-12 to the visiting New York Lizards (7-6) Sunday night in Frisco, Tex. The Rattlers had won their last eight games. Goal John Galloway suffered his first loss in a regular-season game since last July 2 with the Rochester Rattlers. He had won 11 regular-season games in a row since.

The North Carolina Courage, the Western New York Flash until January 2017 are dominating the National Women’s Soccer League with a 14 wins, 1 loss, 4 ties record. They’ve outscored opponents 41-14.

Sunday night I Miami, the Courage won the first International Championship Women’s Tournament Final, beating the five-time UEFA champion Olympique Lyonnals, 1-0. The Lyonnals have won the French Ligue 1 for the last 11 years and are widely regarded as the best women’s club team in the world. Former U.S. women’s national team star Heather O’Reilly scored the game’s only goal and former Flash goalie Sabrina D’Angelo had the clean sheet shutout.

SHORT SHOTS

WWE Hall of Famer Nikoli Volkoff (real name Josip Nikoliai Peruzovic) died over the weekend at age 70. He was best known in pro wrestling for teaming with the Iron Sheik as anti-American heels versus babyface crowd favorites in the mid-1980s. Volkoff infuriated the crowds by singing the Soviet national anthem off-key before matches. They won the WWE tag team championship at Wrestlemania 1 in 1985.

Through the first four live programs and 43 harness races at Batavia Downs this young season, the winningest post position is not the ever-popular No. 1. Wins by post position: No. 1 (9), No. 2 (8), No. 3 (8), No. 4 (12), No. 5. (2), No. 6. (2), No. 7 (2), No. 8 (0)...Post-time favorites have won 21 of the 43 races 48.8 percent).

Jake Withers, of the Rochester Knighthawks, the best faceoff man in the National Lacrosse League, is the 2018 NLL Rookie of the Year. He is the first K-hawk to win the honor since John Grant Jr. in 2000.

Nice note: 10-year-old Kaline Adams finally met her namesake, 83-year-old baseball Hall of Famer Al Kaline, before Saturday’s game in Detroit.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Monday, July 30

Scott Diamond (32)...Hope Solo (37)...Justin Rose (38)...Robert Porcher (49)...Jurgen Klinsmann (54)...Chris Mullin (55)...Reggie Roby (57)...Daley Thompson (60)...Clint Hurdle (61)...Real Cloutier (62)...Reed Larson (62)...Efren Herrera (67)...Dwight White (69)...Bud Selig (84). Hilary Swank (44), Tom Green (47), Lisa Kudrow (55), Arnold Schwarzenegger (71) and Paul Anka (77) are invited to the birthday party.

Tuesday, July 31

Thomas Bryant (21)...Linus Ullmark (25)...A.J. Green (30)...Michael Bradley (31)...Evgeni Malkin (32)...Brian Orapko (32)...DeMarus Ware (36)...Tim Couch (41)...Marty Booker (42)...Gene Kapler (43)...Jonathan Ogden (44)...Gus Frerotte (47)...Dave Stockton (50)...Andre Ware (50)...Scott Brooks (53)...Kevin Greene (56)...Chris Hinton (57)...Dale Hunter (58)...Mark Cuban (60). J.K. Rowling (53) and Wesley Snipes (56) are invited to the birthday party.

ON THIS DATE IN SPORTS...

July 30

88 years ago (1930), host Uruguay beat Argentina 4-2 in the inaugural FIFA World Cup...67 years ago (1951), Ty Cobb testified before the Emanuel Celler committee, denying that the reserve clause makes peons of baseball players...59 years ago (1959), Willie McCovey was 4-for-4 in his MLB debut with the San Francisco Giants...58 years ago (1960), the Boson Patriots beat the Bills 28-7 in Buffalo in the first AFL preseason game...37 years ago (1982), the Atlanta Braves removed Chief Noc-A-Homa to make room for more seats...23 years ago (1995), Richie Ashburn and Mike Scmidt entered baseball’s Hall of Fame...12 years ago (1996), Tommy Lasorda retired as manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

July 31

84 years ago (1934), the St. Louis Cardinals beat the Cincinnati Reds 8-6 in 18 innings as starters Dizzy Dean and Tony Freitas pitched complete games...82 years ago (1936), Tokyo, Japan was awarded the 1940 Olympics – later cancelled...48 years ago (1970), the Kansas City Chiefs beat the College All-Stars 24-3 n the 37th All-Star Game before 69,949 fans...37 years ago (1981), the 42-day-old MLB stroke ended...31 years ago (1987), former Red Wing Eddie Murray hit 299th and 300th MLB home runs.28 years ago (1990), Nolan Ryan became the 20th MLB pitcher to win 300 games...21 years ago (1997), Oakland traded Mark McGwire to the St. Louis Cardinals.

Bob Matthews' Column

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