Baseball Stuff Today …

As the time approaches for the MLB All-Star Game, I began to think about the best players of today and which active ones are likely to be Hall of Fame inductees when the time of their eligibility rolls around.  I noticed quickly that my thoughts were focused on players who already had long careers in MLB and most of those players were pretty obvious candidates such as:

  • Miguel Cabrera
  • Clayton Kershaw
  • Albert Pujols
  • Max Scherzer
  • Justin Verlander

So, I decided to focus on players who were still relatively early in their careers – – but removed from a single outstanding rookie year – – whose career arc was such that they might achieve such an august status somewhere down the road.  I put young pitchers into a category of their own because young pitchers can either blossom or flame out:

  • Gerrit Cole
  • Jacob deGrom
  • Aaron Nola
  • Blake Snell

For the position players, I divided the players into three categories.  The first one encompasses the Top-Shelf Players – – the ones I think have the best shot at the HoF:

  • Nolan Arenado
  • Mookie Betts
  • Mike Trout
  • Christian Yelich

The second category contains players who are just a hair behind the guys on the top-Shelf list.  Call these guys the Highly Likely Candidates:

  • José Altuve
  • Kris Bryant

The final category contains young players who have shown brightly in their short careers but who still have some work to do in order to join the ranks of the six players listed in the two categories above.  Call these players The Aspirants:

  • Cody Bellinger
  • Bryce Harper
  • Manny Machado
  • Anthony Rendon
  • Anthony Rizzo

And there is one more category that contains players who have been excellent but who have also shown a propensity for injury.  Call these players the China Dolls:

  • Giancarlo Stanton
  • Noah Syndergaard

I am sure that I have left off someone’s favorite young player and that I will hear about it presently…

Later this month, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania will make it legal for baseball fans to make “in-game wagers” on MLB games inside the State.  Pennsylvania will join Nevada and New Jersey as the three places in the US where that will be legal.  All of this stems from two things:

  1. The advances of mobile internet access technology
  2. The Supreme Court ruling that PASPA was unconstitutional

Some folks see in-game wagering as a great way for MLB to attract and capture a new wave of fans.  Young people may not like baseball’s pace of play but that same pace of play with intervals between “the action” is very compatible with in-game wagering – – perhaps on every pitch in the game.  This is not something that MLB is hoping will expand, this is something MLB is pushing for to the extent that it has a position in the hierarchy called “Executive Vice-President for Gaming”.

My position here is the same as it is for all sports gambling matters.  Laws cannot prevent it so States should regulate it and tax it.  I hope MLB gets this approved in every state in which MLB operates.  Moreover, I hope that MLB is correct and that this does create and engage a new generation of fans.  But there is a delicious irony here.

MLB has been the most aggressively anti-gambling entity among the major US sports since the days when Judge Landis arrived on a white horse to save the sport from a self-inflicted demise.  It was Judge Landis who posted the famous rule in every clubhouse and baseball facility for all to see every day:

“Any player, umpire, or club or league official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game in connection with which the bettor has a duty to perform, shall be declared permanently ineligible.”

In 2019, some are tying the long-term future of MLB to betting.  Judge Landis is scowling somewhere in the cosmos…

Finally, in keeping with today’s baseball focus, here is a comment from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:

“A Washington Nationals fan trying to catch a home-run ball had it bounce off the top of his noggin.

“That’s what he gets for wearing his lucky Jose Canseco jersey.”

But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………