My weekly opinions, observations and rants about some Canadian baseball stories:
In a perfect world, nice guy John Olerud would be the first player elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame with a Toronto Blue Jays cap on his plaque. Unfortunately, it’s not a perfect world and despite a .295 career batting average, .398 on-base percentage and 2,239 hits, Olerud is unlikely to garner enough support (needs to be named on five per cent of baseball writers’ ballots) to stay on the ballot past this year.
Is ex-Jay Roberto Alomar a Hall of Famer? Yes. Do I feel good about him being elected after everything that has come out about him in 2010? No. Will he be elected this year? Probably.
It has been well documented that this is Maple Ridge, B.C. native Larry Walker’s first year on the Hall of Fame ballot. Unlike Olerud, Walker is likely to land more than five per cent of the vote and return to the ballot next year, but he will fall far short of the 75 per cent required for enshrinement. Will he ever receive enough votes to be elected? That’s a good question, but in my opinion, if Andre Dawson, Jim Rice and Tony Perez are Hall of Famers, so is Larry Walker.
MLB.com reported that the Toronto Blue Jays have expressed an interest in 1B/DH Lance Berkman. Hopefully, Alex Anthopoulos doesn’t think of Berkman as his club’s starting first baseman in 2011. Berkman is below average defensively and has patented a slow, lumbering swing that’s only going to get slower with age.
The good news is that the Jays have expressed an interest in Toronto-born reliever Jesse Crain. The bad news is – according to Peter Gammons – eight other teams are interested as well. Crain might be the most sought-after reliever on the free agent market, which means that a team will likely have to overpay for his services. Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos is unlikely to do this.
My fingers are crossed for Toronto Sun baseball writer Bob Elliott who’s a finalist for the J.G. Taylor Spink Award. The National Baseball Hall of Fame hands out this award for meritorious contributions to baseball writing. Nobody does more for baseball in Canada than Elliott. I consider his book – The Northern Game – the bible of Canadian baseball literature. He’s also a good man who has generously supported me in my career. The winner will be announced December 6.
I was sad to hear that former Blue Jays pitcher Tom Underwood passed away from pancreatic cancer on November 22 at age 56. The versatile left-hander was 9-16 with a tidy 3.69 era for an abysmal Jays club in 1979. He also toed the rubber for the Jays in 1978.