HOF Ballot: Heartbreakers among the newcomers

Carpenter---Hall of Fame talent whose body told him where to shove it . . .

Carpenter—Hall of Fame talent whose body told him where to shove it . . .

The rest of the newcomers to the Hall of Fame ballot—Chipper Jones and Jim Thome should be first-ballot inductees—have a few heartbreakers among them. Men you could have sworn were on the Cooperstown trail but got derailed for one or another reason. For that reason I’ll take these heartbreakers alphabetically.

CHRIS CARPENTER—Tell me you didn’t think this guy was on the way to the Hall of Fame once upon a time. Now, tell me how stinko it was that Carpenter had:

Thome should join Jones as a first-ballot Hall of Famer

Thome running out the bomb he hit in Game Three, 1997 World Series . . .

Thome running out the bomb he hit in Game Three, 1997 World Series . . .

Among the Hall of Fame ballot rookies not named Chipper Jones, there’s another man who shakes out as belonging on next July’s podium with Jones as a first ballot Hall of Famer.

And one thing you notice about Jim Thome’s statistics is that, sure, he struck out a lot, averaging 162 strikeouts per 162 games lifetime. That’s a punchout per game, ladies and gentlemen. But he also a) walked a bunch (he led his league three times) and b) he only averaged hitting into eleven double plays per 162 games lifetime. He also averaged 111 walks per 162, eleven of which were intentional. 

Mr. Chips should be in the Cooperstown chips

Contrary to the sometimes stoic image his classic division dominators gave off, Jones usually looked like he really did love playing the game . . .

Contrary to the sometimes stoic image his classic division dominators gave off, Jones usually looked like he really did love playing the game . . .

A few years ago, after sketching the Hall of Fame cases for one year’s ballot, my comments on Edgar Martinez prompted a reply from one of his more die-hard fans. The gentleman suggested Martinez was not just a throwback player but a notch above several modern-era players, one of whom was Chipper Jones.

Bobby Doerr, RIP: The last of “The Teammates”

Bobby Doerr (left) with (left to right) Dominic DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky, and Ted Williams, in the portrait on the cover of The Teammates.

Bobby Doerr (left) with (left to right) Dominic DiMaggio, Johnny Pesky, and Ted Williams, in the portrait on the cover of The Teammates.

A certain Yale University professor of Renaissance literature turned Yale president had no such ambition when he was a boy in New England. “I wanted more than anything,” baseball’s eventual commissioner A. Bartlett Giamatti once said, “to be Bobby Doerr.”

When Giamatti became president of the National League, before his sadly short-lived commissionership, he met the former Red Sox second baseman and told him, shamelessly, that he admired him more than any baseball player he ever saw growing up.

Roy Halladay, RIP: A fatal dream

Halladay (second from right) after pitching his 2010 perfect game against the Marlins. He'd throw a no-hitter at the Reds later that year to open the NLDS . . .

Halladay (second from right) after pitching his 2010 perfect game against the Marlins. He’d throw a no-hitter at the Reds later that year to open the NLDS . . .

“I have dreamed about owning a A5 since I retired!” Roy Halladay exclaimed on his Twitter account, after purchasing the Icon single-engine, two-seat monoplane in October. “Real life is better then my dreams!!” How could the former pitching great know bettering his dream would end up taking his life at 40?

The unafraid Alex Cora

Alex CoraHowever Alex Cora fares as the Red Sox’s new manager, in one way Red Sox Nation can say thank you to Manny Ramirez for at least half the likelihood that Cora got the job in the first place. Try to stop laughing.

After the Indians signed Cora as a free agent for 2005, the more than useful utility infielder was dealt to the Red Sox almost a month before the 2005 non-waiver trade deadline.

Three opt-ins . . .

Tanka---opting to stay a Yankee . . .

Tanka—opting to stay a Yankee . . .

Opt-out clauses in player contracts often bewilder fans and sometimes wreak havoc, as did Alex Rodriguez when he exercised his during the 2007 World Series. Now they could wreak either benefit or havoc when players don’t exercise them. Consider these who’ve decided to stay put rather than opt out:

* Masahiro Tanaka—The Yankees right hander could have opted out of the final three years of his deal. Instead, he chose not to exercise the option. That takes a top of the line starting pitcher off the winter market. It also gives the Yankees a kind of hometown discount since Tanaka could have commanded more on the open market than the $67 million he’s due on the final three years.

No apology necessary. Really.

Darvish in front of a TMZ camera---apologising for Game Seven, entirely his own idea. This shouldn't be a trend for sports "goats" . . . should it?

Darvish in front of a TMZ camera—apologising for Game Seven, entirely his own idea. This shouldn’t be a trend for sports “goats” . . . should it?

It’s bad enough that the goat business isn’t really going out of business in sports. Now the goat has to apologise on broadcast camera?

A TMZ reporter caught up with Yu Darvish this weekend. With camera. Asking Darvish how he was feeling, two or three days after the Astros made an inning-and-two-thirds pinata out of him for the second time in two World Series starts.

Be not surprised . . .

Could free agent Davis become an Angel? Or an Astro?

Could free agent Davis become an Angel? Or an Astro?

The World Series is all over except for the Astros’ victory parade today. The hot stove is at 375 degrees and climbing, little by little. And anyone who isn’t thinking about what’s going to go into the oven either a) wants to be surprised come spring training (which is a mere 102 days away, thank God); or, b) is a baseball fan for the postseason alone.

For real baseball fans, however, be not surprised . . .

Darvish owns Game Seven, but he wasn’t the only Dodger culprit

The look on Darvish's face after Series MVP Springer took him over the fence said only too much . . .

The look on Darvish’s face after Series MVP Springer’s drive landed over the left center field fence said only too much . . .

Give Yu Darvish credit. He owned this one and didn’t flinch. He went out to start Game Seven of the World Series, got torn apart in an inning and two thirds, and felt even worse for letting down the team he appreciated for giving him another postseason shot in the first place.

Especially because his previous Series start, in Game Three, went the same way, only with one less run against him.