My weekly observations and notes about some Canadian baseball stories:
· So you think it’s easy for writers to fill out their National Baseball Hall of Fame ballots? Go ahead and pretend you have a vote and fill out your own ballot. This was an exercise I undertook on Thursday, and let me tell you, it was hard to narrow it down to 10 players (the maximum you can select). If I had a vote, these are the 10 I’d support: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Roy Halladay, Andruw Jones, Edgar Martinez, Mike Mussina, Mariano Rivera, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling and Larry Walker. I’ve long contended that the issue with the Hall of Fame voting is not the writers, but rather the fact that they’re limited to picking 10 players. In my mind, there are at least five more players – Todd Helton, Jeff Kent, Fred McGriff, Gary Sheffield and Billy Wagner – that I would vote for if I could exceed the limit of 10.
· With the writers in the process of completing and submitting their Hall of Fame ballots, I would like to strongly encourage them to vote for Maple Ridge, B.C. native Larry Walker. Each week until the voting results are announced I’ll feature a tweet that reinforces that Walker, who was inducted into the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009, is worthy of a plaque in Cooperstown. This week’s tweet is from Hot Stove Stats.
· I posted my abbreviated Hall of Fame case for ex-Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Scott Rolen on Twitter this week, and not surprisingly, it sparked some negative feedback. My argument as to why I think Scott Rolen is worthy of a plaque in Cooperstown is that first-ballot Hall of Fame third baseman Brooks Robinson played 2,896 major league games and his WAR was a cumulative 78..4. Meanwhile, Rolen toiled in 2,038 games and posted a 70.2 WAR. Yet, he only received 10.2% support in his first year on the ballot. My point is that Robinson’s WAR is only 8.2 higher than Rolen’s, yet he played 5-1/3 more seasons. And before anyone gets upset, I do believe that Robinson is the greatest defensive third baseman in major league history and is fully worthy of his first-ballot induction.
· Stay tuned for the announcement of the winner of the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s 2018 Tip O’Neill Award which will be shared on this blog on Tuesday at approximately 9 a.m. E.T. This award is presented annually to the Canadian player judged to have excelled in individual achievement and team contribution while adhering to baseball’s highest ideals.
· Happy 79th Birthday to Souris, Man., native and 2013 Canadian Baseball Network Scout of the Year Murray Zuk! He was a talented player, coach and umpire in his home province before becoming the first president of the Manitoba Baseball Association in 1969. A former school principal, he has now served as a big league scout for close to five decades. His resume includes tenures with the Cincinnati Reds, Atlanta Braves and his current club, the San Diego Padres. For his efforts, he was elected to the Manitoba Baseball Hall of Fame in 1999.
· Please take a moment to remember Chicago Cubs Hall of Fame third baseman Ron Santo who passed away eight years ago today at age 70. Santo belted 342 home runs in his 15-year big league career. Twelve of those homers came against the Montreal Expos. In 83 career contests against the Expos, he had 83 hits, batted .291 and drove in 55. Following his playing career, he became a popular radio broadcaster with the Cubs. He was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame posthumously in 2011.
· I found this touching Seattle Mariners fan’s tribute to Ladner, B.C., native James Paxton on Twitter. The Canadian lefty nicknamed Big Maple was traded to the New York Yankees on November 19.
· A testament to just how great of an all-around player former Toronto Blue Jays outfielder Jesse Barfield was. Between my research and even better research from Hot Stove Stats on Twitter, I believe that Willie Mays (1955) and Barfield (1985) are the only two players in major league history to register 20 home runs, 20 stolen bases and 20 outfield assists in the same season.
· Please take some time to bid on the Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame’s silent auction items. There’s lot of fantastic autographed memorabilia that would make great Christmas gifts and the proceeds will greatly benefit the Hall and its programs. You can review the items and bid here.
· This week’s trivia question: Who holds the Montreal Expos record for most assists in a season by an outfielder? Please provide your answer in the “Comments” section below. The first person to provide the correct answer will win a 1983 Donruss Steve Carlton card, a 1983 O-Pee-Chee Johnny Bench card and a 1992 Bowman Wade Boggs card.
· The answer to last week’s trivia question (Two former Montreal Expos managers have been inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Who are they?) was Frank Robinson and Dick Williams.