Men who live in hard luck develop a courage sometimes impossible for those not making his voyage to comprehend. A pitcher who lived in such luck pitching for the Mets in the 1990s, is going to need that courage more than even when he suffered the major league record for a pitcher’s losing streak.
Now, about the Hall of Fame: Speaking for myself alone it’s about damn time Jeff Bagwell and Tim Raines were elected to Cooperstown, and congratulations to Ivan Rodriguez for making it first ballot. But it’s a shame Vladimir Guerrero missed in his first try. Not to worry, he’s going to make it, perhaps next year.
But so far as the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America is concerned, it was a dead heat between Guerrero and Rodriguez as our picks for Hall of Famers. They both got 84.54 percent of the IBWAA vote—including mine—while Mike Mussina came one vote short of his needed 75 percent and Trevor Hoffman fell short by three.
Fifty years ago this spring, three Hall of Fame pitchers planted the seeds that would change baseball’s harvest irrevocably, and for the better. One seed kind of opened the door for the other, if indirectly, but once baseball’s field was tilled for the other (kicking and screaming, of course) the game’s and perhaps the country’s worst fears proved largely unfounded.
“The talent is all there, but between the ears there’s a circuit board off balance.” Thus spoke Adam Jones, Orioles outfielder, early last June, after Yordano Ventura—the Royals’ talented but combustible pitcher—decided to go to war against Manny Machado and finally provoked yet another brawl.
“The first major league pitch I ever called . . . a curve ball to Wally Moon,” Chris Cannizzaro once said. “I didn’t catch it.” That’s because Moon, then with the Dodgers, hit it far over the infamous Chinese Screen in left field in the old Los Angeles Coliseum, where the Dodgers were shoehorned into playing baseball until Dodger Stadium was ready in 1962.
Cannizzaro was then enjoying one of a couple of cups of coffee with the Cardinals. If he didn’t get to catch his first major league called pitch, he didn’t have any better luck in his first major league at-bat: he grounded out to second base against Sandy Koufax.