Beltre, from the Nutcracker to the Hall of Fame?

Adrian Beltre at second after ripping a double down the line off Wade Miley for number 3,000 . . .

Adrian Beltre at second after ripping a double down the line off Wade Miley for number 3,000 . . .

By his own profession, the best moment in Adrian Beltre’s life wasn’t the hard line drive he smashed past third base for hit number 3,000 Sunday afternoon. And it would have been moment enough for a Hall of Famer in waiting on the day they inducted Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines, and Ivan Rodriguez—himself a longtime Ranger—into the Hall.

Bags, the Rock, and Pudge roll to Cooperstown today

Bagwell, Raines, and Rodriguez get their Hall of Fame plaques today.

Bagwell, Raines, and Rodriguez get their Hall of Fame plaques today.

Nothing worked against Jeff Bagwell and Ivan Rodriguez but innuendo and, in Bagwell’s case, one or two overcrowded ballots. They step into the Hall of Fame today, hand in hand with Tim Raines, two representing the triumph of evidence over innuendo and one representing the triumph of analysis over emotion.

Neither Bagwell nor Rodriguez were ever proven to have used actual or alleged performance-enhancing substances. Bagwell chose not to address the issue in any form, at any level, until after his playing career ended; Rodriguez slapped Jose Canseco back down convincingly in his own book, They Call Me Pudge.

Trading Duda as the Mets begin pulling the plug on 2017

Lucas Duda takes his streaky slugging to Tampa Bay for the stretch run after Thursday's trade.

Lucas Duda takes his streaky slugging to Tampa Bay for the stretch run after Thursday’s trade.

The highest profile moment of Lucas Duda’s career happened not when he was hitting one of his home runs but when he helped throw the Mets’ World Series survival hopes away in Game Five, 2015.

Top of the ninth. Matt Harvey pleaded to stay in and finish what he started on a night he had his A game, a 2-0 shutout. Except that he walked Lorenzo Cain and fed Eric Hosmer an RBI double. Then manager Terry Collins lifted him for closer Jeurys Familia, who’d already blown two Series saves through no fault of his own.

The Price is wrong about Dennis the Menace

Dennis Eckersley (second from left) and Kirk Gibson (second from right), once World Series warriors, now banded with Tony La Russa (left) and Joe Torre (right) on behalf of Torre's foundation for neglected and abused children.

Dennis Eckersley (second from left) and Kirk Gibson (second from right), once World Series warriors, now banded with Tony La Russa (left) and Joe Torre (right) on behalf of Torre’s foundation for neglected and abused children.

If one thing above and beyond his pitching ability marked Dennis Eckersley’s career, it was accountability. Surrender a game-ending bomb to a Dodger batter who was lucky he didn’t need to swing from a wheelchair in the first game of a World Series? Eckersley didn’t shrink. Nobody said baseball was simple. Dennis the Menace would have called that person a liar.

Will Morse provoke more head shaking about the unwritten rules?

Morse (right) and Samardzija collide after converging at the mound following Strickland's insane Memorial Day drill of Harper (left forearm) . . .

Morse and Samardzija collide after converging at the mound following Strickland’s insane Memorial Day drill of Harper (left forearm) . . .

Michael Morse has more than a few reasons for pride in his baseball career. And a few reasons to look back in amusement. Now he may have a reason to look back in dismay, at least to Memorial Day, when a teammate launched a brawl that may cost him his career.

Nobody including Morse says its anyone’s fault but his, when he poured in from first base to join his mates and collided with pitcher Jeff Samardzija, a pregnant pause after Hunter Strickland was stupid enough to drill Bryce Harper on the right hip with malice aforethought, over a two-and-a-half-year-old home run.

The Red Sox purge the Panda

Even a slimmed-down Panda proved still injury prone and unable to pull his weight in Boston.

Even a slimmed-down Panda proved still injury prone and unable to pull his weight in Boston.

Has any fall from grace in the past two or three years been as profound and sad as Pablo Sandoval’s? Maybe this year’s collapse of his former Giants qualifies. Maybe.

The Red Sox have designated Kung Fu Panda for assignment—while he was already down on the farm at Pawtucket rehabbing after an inner ear infection sidelined him earlier this month. The team activated him, then designated him.

All-Star starters don’t always deserve to be (but you knew that, didn’t you?)

Hall of Famer Ripken, the all-time leader in undeserved All-Star Game starts.

Hall of Famer Ripken, the all-time leader in undeserved All-Star Game starts.

So. Aaron Judge lived up to his notices in the Home Run Derby Monday, inspiring speculation on whether he’ll take Max Scherzer over the fence in the All-Star Game tonight. (My call: Don’t bet against it too heavily.) At long last the All-Star Game isn’t going to determine World Series home field advantage. But I find myself transfixed on a remarkable article at FiveThirtyEight whose sub-headline is more arresting than the main one: “Cal Ripken made too many All-Star teams, Keith Hernandez not enough.”

Ahhhh, wait till last year?

Lester and the Cubs probably couldn't wait for the first half to end---but how it ended for Lester Sunday was only too embarrassing . . .

Lester and the Cubs probably couldn’t wait for the first half to end—but how it ended for Lester Sunday was only too embarrassing . . .

At the current rate, the Cubs may spend the final half of this season hearing one after another whisper, sometimes elevated to a shout, saying, “Ahhhh, wait till last year!” Team president Theo Epstein isn’t willing, however. And Sunday afternoon may have made him even more resolute.

2017, Part One: Houston, we have a (sort of) problem . . .

The Astros own baseball at the All-Star break, but . . . but . . . but . . .

The Astros own baseball at the All-Star break, but . . . but . . . but . . .

If you predicted entering spring training that the Houston Astros would be a) the team to beat, and b) next to impossible to beat, they would have wrapped you in a straitjacket and sent you on a one-way trip to the Delta Quadrant. But when not rubbing its eyes over the Astros’ 1986 Mets-like ownership of the game thus far, baseball spent the first half of 2017 wondering about certain rule changes actual or to be, wondering whether the baseballs themselves were given shots of rocket fuel (total Show home runs in May and June: 2,161; or, one homer plus per game of Lou Gehrig’s former consecutive-games played streak), and wondering whether the unwritten rules needed to be overthrown post haste.