What If Don Mattingly Took Steroids?

    Monday, March 8, 2010, 11:04 PM [General]

    The headline may look it but I'm not accusing Donnie Baseball of taking steroids.  However when it comes to Hall of Fame voting, does a player like Mattingly's stock go up in an era full of steroid users?  Would Donnie have gotten into the Hall had he used roids?  And if he did would he have put up "Mark McGwire type" stats?

    Don Mattingly was a great ballplayer and a great New York Yankee.  Mattingly was arguably one of the best players in the sport during the 1980's and if there were a handful of guys you'd want your kid to be like or play like, Donnie Baseball would be that guy.  Was he a Hall of Fame caliber player?  Yes.  A Hall of Famer?  Probably not.

    Yet I'm curious about one thing, if some writers and purists contend that the DH has had the effect of "tainting" the record books by pro-longing the careers of players who otherwise would've been retired long ago, then wouldn't that go the same for players who've used steroids to stick around and heighten their stats?  And does that then increase the chances for a guy like Mattingly to make a case for a spot in the Hall?

    One such player I will compare Mattingly with is McGwire.  Taking their first six years into account, from ages 23-28, before Mattingly had back problems and McGwire knee problems.

    Mattingly's averages come out to: Runs 97, hits 203, doubles 43, HR's 27, RBI 114.  McGwire's averages come out to: Runs 82, hits 127, doubles 21, HR's 36, RBI 100.  Mattingly beats McGwire every year in batting average during this period and in on-base-percentage every year except for when they were both 28.  Mattingly wins in slugging % four out of the six years (every year but the first and last of the six).  McGwire walks more, Mattingly strikes out less. 

    Each was an All-Star six times during that span.  McGwire won rookie of the year.  Mattingly won an MVP and a batting title, probably should've won another MVP in 1986 if they didn't give it to a pitcher linked to steroid use named Roger Clemens.  During that six year age span, Mattingly won five gold gloves, while McGwire won one.  Mattingly won three silver sluggers, McGwire one.  Mattingly finished in the top ten in batting five times while McGwire finished in the top ten in slugging four times during this six year age period. 

    What does all of this prove?  Well perhaps if nothing else, it furthers the notion that McGwire may not have been in the Hall on his own (which he is still not) if not aided by steroids.  It certainly makes one wonder what Mattingly's career numbers would've looked like if he like McGwire at the same cross-roads would have chosen to go the steroid route to resurrect his once Hall of Fame bound career.  This is proven out especially when one considers that when Mattingly retired at the age of 34, at that same age McGwire hit career highs of 70 HR's and 147 RBI.    

    As it all turns out, neither player may end up making it to the Hall.  But because of the steroid era, unlike Big Mac, people still want Donnie Baseball in the Hall.

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    More Instant Replay Please

    Monday, March 8, 2010, 10:55 PM [General]

    If being in favor of more instant replay in baseball means being for getting the calls on the field right, then count me in as someone who wants more instant replay in the game.  Because ultimately getting the call correct is what it's all about right? 

    Now obviously umpires make mistakes just like players and managers and coaches and on down the line.  However I don't really understand this whole emphasis on "baseball tradition" as to why instant replay can't come to fruition in baseball.

    Heck the only reason its been that way for over 100 years is because over 100 years ago games weren't even on radio let alone broadcast in crystal clear HDTV.  They had no concept of instant replay as a tool back then, but who is to say they wouldn't have utilized it if they'd had the opportunity?  MLB isn't fooling anyone anymore by sheepishly sweeping these calls under the rug.

    Some umpires may take offense to this whole notion of actually being held accountable and overruled just like players, managers and coaches, but I say tough, it's not about you guys it's about getting the calls right!  Don't worry about opening some pandora's box, the technology is there so use it.

    As far as the pacing of the game, would having an extra umpire or league official up in the booth monitoring the game on a big-screen HDTV instantly relaying a disputed HR call down to the field be any slower than the umpires on the field huddling up and deliberating or arguing with both managers and players over such a call? 

    Perhaps the worry is that the technology has become too blatantly good that the umpires will cease to be relevant.  Because with the advent of HDTV and slow motion zoom and K-Zone and Questec, there's no hiding anymore and no excuse for being able to overturn obvious calls.

    This may sound a bit harsh but honestly the only reason umpires are there is because they were there first as the only means to make calls and resolve disputes.  It’s sort of like bikes and cars, sure bikes came first but if you had the option of having a car to get around wouldn't you take the car?  Upon further review, botched calls make me crave for a change.

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    George Steinbrenner Belongs In The Hall Of Fame

    Monday, March 8, 2010, 12:00 AM [General]

    New York Yankees Principal Owner George M. Steinbrenner III, is one of a kind.  A few years ago it was asked if an owner should be eligible for the baseball hall of fame.  And with Walter O'Malley's induction a couple years back, there is no question in my mind that the man they call "The Boss" should be in there as well.

    The story of George Steinbrenner is far too vast and detailed to chronicle in just one article.  The son of a ship builder, born in Rocky River, Ohio, the man who made the Yankees matter again.  Steinbrenner, who has owned the Yankees longer than anyone in team history, took the team from the depths of obscurity for a "paltry" sum of $10 million to a multi-billion dollar franchise.  Steinbrenner also restored the history and tradition and winning ways of the New York Yankees.

    During his reign the Yankees have reached the playoffs 19 times, won 11 pennants and 7 World Series.  Under him they renovated Yankee Stadium and have built a state of the art Stadium which opened last season.  They've also been able to create a virtual cash cow with the inception of the YES Network in 2002.  Additionally for better or for worse, Steinbrenner is willing to spend whatever is necessary to win.  Sure he has had virtually unlimited resources in New York, but how many titles have Fred Wilpon, James Dolan and Woody Johnson won?

    Granted there have been controversies, with Billy Martin, Reggie Jackson, Dave Winfield and heck even with the new Stadium, but Steinbrenner has always been a master of controlling the back pages of the New York papers. 

    However, sadly as we have come to see publicly over the last few years unfortunately his health seems to be in decline.  So hopefully Mr. Steinbrenner who has gotten to view his dream of his new Stadium, gets to accept and be able to fully appreciate a Hall of Fame plaque in Cooperstown, N.Y. before it’s too late.  Then again George would probably just assume trade it all for a 28th title this season.

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    Yankee Playoff Memories: Reflecting On The Old Yard Part 4 of 4

    Sunday, March 7, 2010, 11:47 PM [General]

    Starting in 1995 the New York Yankees have made the playoffs 14 out of 15 times.  With Yankee Stadium II having ended operations after 2008, I felt it fitting to reflect and list my top 12 playoff moments at The House George Renovated before they christen the new yard with post season baseball for the first time.  With apologies to Reggie Jackson and Chris Chambliss, I'm naming the moments I've seen in my lifetime.  Now comes part four with plenty of dramatics!

    # 3.) 2001 World Series Game 4, Arizona Diamondbacks @ New York Yankees: While game 5 is great on its own, the magnitude just isn't the same without game 4.  With the game tied 1-1 the D-Backs took the lead 3-1 in the top of the 8th.  Things were looking pretty dire for the Yankee offense, until Tino Martinez made his first hit of the series his best one.  After Paul O'Neill had singled to left, Martinez drilled the two-out offering from Kim who as mentioned would be victimized a night later in the same scenario by Scott Brosius, over the wall to tie the game at three a piece.

    The very next inning in the bottom of the 10th also with two outs Derek Jeter became forever known as Mr. November hitting one into the short porch in right off Kim for the 4-3 walkoff win.

    # 2.) 2003 ALCS Game 7, Boston Red Sox @ New York Yankees: Given the scope, intensity, rivalry and nature of the game and its outcome, this may well have been the best baseball game I've ever watched and boy did it live up to the hype.  Everything was on the table, bragging rights, "The Curse of the Bambino," and more importantly the AL Pennant and a trip to the World Series.  In what was starting to look like Roger Clemens' last start ever, The Rocket got lit up for two homers by Jason Varitek and Kevin Millar that staked Boston out to a 4-0 lead in the 4th. 

    Of course in game seven as far as pitchers, all hands are on deck.  In that 4th inning with two on, Clemens exited and Mike Mussina came on for his first ever career relief appearance.  Mussina struck out Varitek and got Johnny Damon to ground into a 6-6-3 inning ending double play, keeping the Yankees in the game.

    The Yankees then chipped away off Pedro Martinez when Jason Giambi connected for two solo HR's in the 5th and 7th cutting the lead to 4-2. 

    When it finally looked as if the Yankees were back in it, the Red Sox came back with a solo shot of their own as David Wells surrendered a HR to David Ortiz making it 5-2 Boston going into the bottom of the 8th.  That's when the Yankees caught fire off Martinez.  With 1 out Derek Jeter doubled to center. 

    Bernie Williams followed suit with a single to center of his own, knocking in Jeter and reducing the lead to 5-3. 

    Hideki Matsui then roped a double to rightfield and Williams advanced to 3rd. 

    With runners in scoring position, Jorge Posada blooped a two-run game tying double to shallow left-centerfield making it 5-5.  Posada was pumped and the Stadium roared. 

    Mariano Rivera then added to his Hall of Fame playoff legacy with three epic shutout innings of relief, that would eventually earn him ALCS MVP honors.

    Then with the game still tied 5-5 in the bottom of the 11th, the improbable Aaron Boone, Willie Randolph's sleeper pick, hit a lead-off, walkoff pinch hit homer to win the Yankees 39th AL Pennant and a trip to the World Series.  The Yankees won the game 6-5 and the ALCS 4-3.

    # 1.) 1996 World Series Game 6, Atlanta Braves @ New York Yankees: Ok so I said the last game was the best I've ever seen, but the number one game to me has the most special meaning and significance.  It was the night the underdog Yankees completed their improbable run which included a slew of human interest stories and ultimately what was to be the birth of a dynasty. 

    Everyone had counted them out, every step of the way.  They'd just come off a crushing series loss the year before, Joe was supposedly clueless, Doc and Darryl were in the baseball waste bin, Coney was fighting for his life and of course there was no way they could win with that rookie kid Jeter starting at SS.  Even when they made it to the World Series, the doubters said no way could they beat the defending champion Braves, the "team of the 90's," and there was no way after losing their first two at home in ugly fashion that they could sweep the Braves on the road and come back home to win it, beating three Hall of Fame pitchers in Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Greg Maddux along the way.  But they did.  After sweeping out the Braves in Atlanta to go 8-0 on the road in the 1996 playoffs, the Yankees came home to try and clinch title number 23, their first in 18 years.  The first one I'd seen in my lifetime.

    Jimmy Key went against Greg Maddux in a rematch of game 2.  Key, one of the first early 90's Yankees to help create the winning culture in the Bronx was more than solid allowing just one run in 5/1/3 innings.

    The Yankees struck for 3 in the 3rd off Maddux and it would be all they'd need, as Paul O'Neill doubled to right, Mariano Duncan moved him to 3rd on a grounder, Joe Girardi then tripled to center off his former Chicago Cubs battery-mate, plating O'Neill for the 1-0 lead and the Stadium absolutely shook.  Derek Jeter then singled Girardi home for the 2-0 edge.  After stealing 2nd, Jeter scored on what turned out to be the game winning RBI, a line drive single to center by Bernie Williams, as the two emerging young cornerstones of this Yankee dynasty gave the Bombers a 3-0 lead.  The Yankee bullpen was sharp once again, including getting two scoreless innings out of Mariano Rivera late.

    Eventual World Series MVP closer John Wetteland in his typical fashion made things interesting in the bottom of the 9th.  The defending champs wouldn't go quietly as Marquis Grissom knocked in Ryan Klesko, cutting the lead to 3-2.  Then with the tying run in scoring position and the go-ahead run at first, Wetteland got Mark Lemke to pop into foul territory along the 3rd base side by the stands and Charlie Hayes gloved it for the final out of the game and series.  Wetteland's World Series record 4th save and the Yankees won their 23rd title, in what would become their next dynasty, eventual team of the decade, team of the century.

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

    Yankee Playoff Memories: Reflecting On The Old Yard Part 3 of 4

    Sunday, March 7, 2010, 11:45 PM [General]

    Starting in 1995 the New York Yankees have made the playoffs 14 out of 15 times.  With Yankee Stadium II having ended operations after 2008, I felt it fitting to reflect and list my top 12 playoff moments at The House George Renovated before they christen the new yard with post season baseball for the first time.  With apologies to Reggie Jackson and Chris Chambliss, I'm naming the moments I've seen in my lifetime.  Here's part three.

    # 6.) 1998 World Series Game 1, San Diego Padres @ New York Yankees: If they didn't win this World Series they would've accomplished a lot for naught.  Having won 114 games in the regular season, anything less than a title to this group would've been an abject failure.  Ricky Ledee who ripped Padres pitching in this series, got the ball rolling in the bottom of the 2nd with a two-run double to rightfield off Kevin Brown.  Surprisingly though the Yankees ace that year David "Boomer" Wells, allowed five runs through the 5th including HR's to Greg Vaughn and Tony Gwynn putting the Padres out front 5-2.  In the bottom of the 7th though it was two moments of atonement which spurred the Yankees on to victory.  Chuck Knoblauch hit a game tying three run blast off reliever Donnie Wall making it 5-5.  Tino Martinez then took Mark Langston upper-tank for a grand slam, giving the Yanks a 9-5 lead, capping off a seven run seventh.  The Yanks went on to win 9-6 and swept the series 4-0.

    # 5.) 1996 ALCS Game 1, Baltimore Orioles @ New York Yankees: After their first playoff series victory in 15 years, the Yanks made their first trip back to the ALCS since 1981.  On this day October day at the Stadium there was plenty of magic, mystique and Maier.  Setting the stage, Baltimore on the strength of HR's from Brady Anderson and Rafael Palmeiro, led 4-3 heading into the bottom of the 8th.  That's when all hell broke loose.  A child shall lead them and if that's not enough another one will help him.  Now I'll always maintain that if there had been no interference, given the trajectory of the ball it would've gone off the top of the wall for at least a double, because Tony Tarasco didn't leap for it.  But Derek Jeter with an assist from 12 year old fan Jeffrey Maier, tied the game on what was ruled a HR to rightfield, off Armando Benitez and as a result we see where both post-season careers of Jeter and Benitez have gone since.

    With the game tied at 4-4 Bernie Williams went boom, leading off the bottom of the 11th taking Randy Myers deep to left to give the Yanks and exciting walkoff win.

    # 4.) 2001 World Series Game 5, Arizona Diamondbacks @ New York Yankees: Between games 4 and 7 this one seemingly gets lost in the shuffle but shouldn't.  The Yankees off a comeback victory in game 4 made a sort of deja vu history once again.  Unfortunately their offense couldn't muster anything for eight innings against D-Backs pitching.  Rod Barajas and Steve Finley had taken Mike Mussina deep, spoiling his brilliant ten strikeout performance.  With the D-Backs about to steal back momentum and the series lead heading back to Arizona, the Yankees struck back for the 2nd night in a row in the bottom of the 9th.  Jorge Posada doubled to left to start off the inning, then with two outs and the Yanks on their last leg, Mr. Clutch since his arrival in 1998 Scott Brosius clocked a game tying homer to left off of Byung-Hyun Kim tying the game at 2-2.

    As the game moved to the bottom of the 12th, Chuck Knoblauch led off with a single, Brosius bunted him into scoring position and Alfonso Soriano continued his 2001 playoff heroics with his single to right off Albie Lopez to plate Knoblauch for the 3-2 win.  The Yankees took the series lead 3-2 and this win gave them a record 10 straight World Series home victories.  It was also Paul O'Neill's final game at Yankee Stadium.

    Would it be deja vu all over again?  Check out the fourth and final installment.

    3.7 (1 Ratings)

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