Yes, Vlad the Impaler is a Hall of Famer . . .

Vlad the Impaler, blasting the game-tying grand slam in Game Three, 2004 Division Series, in Fenway Park . . .

Vlad the Impaler, blasting the game-tying grand slam in Game Three, 2004 Division Series, in Fenway Park . . .

Normally, annually, I give a run down on the Hall of Fame ballot newcomers and holdovers separately, but it isn’t every year Vladimir Guerrero makes his debut on the ballot. But it isn’t every year that a newcomer looks like an obvious, no-questions-asked Hall of Famer in spite of his flaws. And, despite the likelihood that he may not make it first ballot because what’s with or ahead of him looks just that good.

2016, RIP . . .

Monte Irvin.

Monte Irvin.

Big Papi at least has the rest of his life to live at 40, and Vin Scully isn’t likely to go into that good grey night anytime soon despite his retirement. But lives on earth, alas, finish in due course, even in and around baseball, even in 2016.

2016: The most unheard-of things . . .

Cub Country longed to see it . . .

Cub Country longed to see it . . .

Somewhere at the height of the –ism bearing his name, Sen. Joseph McCarthy declared something was the most unheard-of thing anyone had ever heard of. Like the presidential election in which the people’s choices were between a crank and a crook, baseball in 2016 was much like that. In spring, Manny Machado won Best of Breed at the Westminster Dog Show. (Relax, Oriole fans: it was a Mexican hairless whose owner named the pooch after the third baseman.) At November’s beginning, the Chicago Cubs (read it and savour deeper, Cub Country) returned to the Promised Land—ending their 108-year rebuilding effort—at the expense of the Cleveland Indians.

Sorry, Ms. Smith, but I’d vote for Ms. Gordon first

Alison Gordon, the first woman on a daily major league newspaper beat, in the Blue Jays' clubhouse--current Spink Award winner Claire Smith remains an admirer.

Alison Gordon, the first woman on a daily major league newspaper beat, in the Blue Jays’ clubhouse–current Spink Award winner Claire Smith remains an admirer.

Before he developed a reputation as a serial fiance/father in the 1980s, Steve Garvey had one as a gentleman. In case anyone forgot about it, Garvey showed it after Game One of the 1984 National League Championship Series, following his Padres being smothered by the Cubs, 13-0.

Strasburg and the hazard of fixing unbroken pitchers

Strasburg admits the slider he tried in 2016 was hazardous to his health.

Strasburg admits the slider he tried in 2016 was hazardous to his health.

There were interesting times during the Nationals’ annual Winterfest this weekend. And, interesting remarks, from general manager Mike Rizzo admitting the Adam Eaton deal turned Danny Espinosa into a likely trade candidate to Stephen Strasburg admitting that falling in love with a pitch he didn’t quite throw properly caused him the tendon issue that wiped out his second half and his postseason.

The Yankees tell Chapman, “Let’s do it again”—and how

Chapman returns to the Yankees on a record-setting deal . . .

Chapman returns to the Yankees on a record-setting deal . . .

The next time the world champion Cubs see Aroldis Chapman will be either in regular season interleague play or in the World Series, assuming the Cubs return within the next five years and face the Yankees. Not that they’re complaining about dealing for Wade Davis, but you suspect in their hearts of hearts the Cubs knew Chapman was a second-half rental.

Aroldis who? The Cubs deal for Davis; the Royals say goodbye H-D-H

Davis, the last man standing on the mound when the Royals won the 2015 World Series . . . now gets a chance to return with the world champ Cubs . . .

Davis, the last man standing on the mound when the Royals won the 2015 World Series . . . now gets a chance to return with the world champ Cubs . . .

Once upon a time, Motown included a venerable songwriting and production trio, Eddie Holland, Lamont Dozier, and Brian Holland. Colloquially, they were known as HDH. Half a century later, the Royals had a late-game bullpen corps of Kelvim Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland. Also known colloquially as H-D-H.

Melancon’s straw stirs the closers’ market drink

Melancon goes to the Bay to begin fixing the Giants' broken bullpen . . .

Melancon goes to the Bay to begin fixing the Giants’ broken bullpen . . .

We talk much, and often hyperbolically, about the worst kept secrets in baseball. But in 2016, the Giants’ bullpen was an easy candidate for the absolute worst-kept secret in the game. In a word, the Giants’ pen was a wreck populated by arsonists.

They went from baseball’s near-best record at the All-Star break to lucky to be in and win the wild card game against the Mets. Few thought they were better than long shots to keep their too-often spoken even-season championship streak alive.

This Bud’s not for you, but he’s in the Hall of Fame

Bud Selig (right)---he almost helped break baseball in half, then got to present the Red Sox with three World Series  trophies and David Ortiz (left) the MVP of the 2013 Series.

Bud Selig (right)—he almost helped break baseball in half, then got to present the Red Sox with three World Series trophies and David Ortiz (left) the MVP of the 2013 Series.

Don’t look now, but former commissioner Bud Selig is a Hall of Famer. This is like the cobra inviting the mongoose for a dinner date. Selig was the first owner to become commissioner after he engineered the putsch that threw Fay Vincent overboard. And violated the intent of the office when he stepped in.