Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Oligopoly FAQ

I've shared my theory about what I've termed "the Oligopoly" in real life and on the internet, and for the most part it's been met with confusion and questions about my sanity. I'm not here to be defensive, since I understand the skepticism of those who can't see. I've come to realize though, that this theory is easily misunderstood, as is my own claim to knowledge of it.

While I've discussed it in some detail in previous posts, I thought it would be good to write one comprehensive post explaining it fully, and clarifying both what it is and is not. For the first time I can recall in my life, I'm writing an FAQ, and answers will be as detailed as I think is necessary.

What is the Oligopoly?

Simply put, the Oligopoly is a select group of Major League Baseball franchises that are also media favorites. The theory is that starting in 2006, some inexplicable force has kept anyone outside this select group from winning the World Series.

So this is a conspiracy theory?

No, because I don't believe there's anyone conspiring. I don't think anyone is rigging games or pulling strings to get a certain result. It's just something that happens. There seems to be an intangible sort of magic that carries one of these franchises to the championship every year.

What are you saying, that there's voodoo involved?

I make absolutely no claim to know how it works, I just observe the pattern. Perhaps the good vibes from the media somehow give these franchises a psychological boost. I just don't know.

Which franchises are in the Oligopoly?

Any franchise that's won the World Series since 2006 is an obvious member, meaning the Cardinals, Red Sox, Phillies, Yankees and Giants. Other franchises believed to be Oligopoly members are the Dodgers and Mets, since the national media would obviously have no objection to either one winning the World Series. There are other franchises that may or may not be Oligopoly members, such as the Angels, Braves and Cubs, but one can't be certain.

Wait just a second here...you don't even know for certain who's in it?

I'm only saying I don't know the full extent of the Oligopoly. While the Angels and Braves aren't overwhelming media favorites, I could see a title for either franchise being favorably received by the media. As for the Cubs, while they're a clear media favorite, they're also a franchise that derives a lot of mystique from not winning the World Series, so perhaps the media would be disappointed not to have that narrative any longer. There are other teams you could make cases for, so I wouldn't necessarily rule them out, but I don't believe they're members.

This makes no sense! Why would a franchise in a relatively small market like the Cardinals be in it instead of a bigger-market franchise like the White Sox, or even the Tigers?

Because neither one of those franchises has ever dominated historically, and both lack a brand that transcends their region. The Cardinals are one of baseball's flagship franchises, and let's face it, the media never tire of talking about what a strong organization they have.

OK, but what about the Phillies? You claim they're in the Oligopoly, but do you really think they have a brand that transcends their region?

No, and I wouldn't say the Mets do either. However, I believe the Mets to be Oligopoly members, because the media have always loved giving them attention, and the Phillies are part of the northeast regional media lovefest. Before the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, the city's title drought that extended back to 1983 got tons of media play, despite being dwarfed by the droughts of cities like San Diego, Buffalo and Cleveland. The media like talking about Philadelphia enough that a Phillie World Series title, while nowhere near as glamorous as say, a Yankee title, is still pretty darn cool to them.

It sounds to me like you're working backwards. Aren't you just making a post hoc rationalization for why certain teams win?

I can see how it would look that way to the skeptic, but I ask you to take a look at some of the teams that have lost the World Series since the start of the Oligopoly: The 2006 Tigers, 2007 Rockies, 2008 Rays, 2010-11 Rangers, 2012 Tigers and 2014 Royals. Right there you have seven teams. All are from franchises that aren't particular media favorites, and none has a widely-recognizable brand. Each of them lost to a team that fit the Oligopoly criteria. The only one on that list I'd consider clearly inferior to their opponent is the 2007 Rockies. Given normal odds, you'd think at least one or two of these teams would've won. It sure seems like more than a coincidence, doesn't it?

But the Royals came close! They lost Game 7 of the World Series by a single run! What if they had won that game?

Then I would have declared the Oliopoly dead. However, they didn't win, so it does nothing to refute the theory.

Why do you use 2006 as a cutoff? Is there something special about that date?

Because the 2005 White Sox are the last World Series Champion I don't believe to be part of the Oligopoly. My little pet theory is that as a White Sox fan, this is my punishment for finally being allowed to see them win it, but I don't necessarily believe that. Why it started at that time remains, like most things Oligopoly-related, a mystery.

So you think this Oligopoly is just going to continue for all eternity, and no one outside this group is ever going to win the World Series again?

No. I have a feeling it'll come to an end at some point, and I'll probably be rejoicing when it does. For the time being though, we're stuck under the dark cloud of media favorite dominance.

What would it take for you to declare the Oligopoly dead?

A team would have to win the World Series that is a clear non-media favorite. If I can't plausibly argue that said team is an Oligopoly member, then it will be proof that the Oligopoly is no longer in effect.

And which teams would those be?

There are 14 teams I am all but certain are not in the Oligopoly. If one of them won the World Series, I'd declare the Oligopoly dead:
  • Arizona Diamondbacks
  • Cincinnati Reds
  • Cleveland Indians
  • Colorado Rockies
  • Houston Astros
  • Kansas City Royals
  • Milwaukee Brewers
  • Minnesota Twins
  • Oakland Athletics
  • Pittsburgh Pirates
  • San Diego Padres
  • Seattle Mariners
  • Tampa Bay Rays
  • Toronto Blue Jays

I'm nearly certain about the following teams being non-members too, but I could imagine a case being made for any of them. If one of them won the World Series, I'd probably declare the Oligopoly dead, but there'd be lingering doubts:
  • Baltimore Orioles
  • Chicago White Sox
  • Detroit Tigers
  • Miami Marlins
  • Texas Rangers
  • Washington Nationals

Doesn't any of this sound nuts to you?

Sure. I don't want to believe this is true, but after seeing the same thing happen year after year, it's hard not to feel like it's true. I would love to have optimism about the teams I like getting a chance to hoist the World Series trophy, but the Oligopoly has numbed me to such hopes. Hopefully it'll come to an end sooner rather than later. Until it does though, I'll continue to be a pessimist.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Markakis Signing Shows Braves Not Done (Sponsored Post)

The Atlanta Braves have been one of the most active teams so far this winter in baseball, and it does not look like they are going to be slowing down anytime soon. After their latest move involving outfielder Nick Markakis, it sets up a number of other possible opportunities. The team is going to be trying to do whatever possible to get back into playoff contention, and it seems like they are focused mostly on shaking up the team chemistry.

For one reason or another, Atlanta regressed a little bit in 2014. Some people feel like the clubhouse was not exactly the best in baseball. It didn’t really leak out into the public eye all that much, but there is a reason why so many players are rumored to be on the move.

Perhaps their best trade piece currently on the roster is fantasy baseball stand out Justin Upton. The outfielder can be a little bit streaky at times, but he is in the prime of his career and he has MVP type potential when everything is clicking. Now that they have another outfielder in Markakis, they might be willing to trade away Upton to try and improve in other areas.

While it is important for Atlanta to make changes in general, they don’t want to make any silly mistakes when it comes to getting players too much money. It is a pretty good deal to get Markakis for 4 seasons and about $44 million. He has been productive for the Baltimore Orioles throughout his career, and he is a guy who grew up in Georgia and should be happy to be home. The Atlanta Braves want to be playoff contenders again, and making some of these under the radar moves might be exactly what they need to catch up with Washington and also hold off teams like Miami and New York.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Award Pages Updated For 2014

As I do every year, the special award list pages have been updated. This'll probably be the only update here for the month of November, as my Baseball-Reference sponsorship posts had ceased being fun several years ago, and I don't have the time to dig through them that I did in the past. I hope the few of you who care understand.

Anyway, here are the links to the updated award pages:

Which Team Had the Most Cy Young Winners?
Rookie of the Year Facts
The Second-Place Award Winners

Have fun looking through them. Or don't. Whatever you like. 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

It's All Over

So the Giants won. Just as I predicted. The Oligopoly remains intact. Before the playoffs began, I knew which teams had a chance, and which ones didn't, because I understood how the Oligopoly works. For me personally, this is my ninth straight World Series disappointment, and my fourth straight rerun championship. And people wonder why I'm so bitter about this game.

Oh well. It's all over now, and I can move on with my life instead of spending time loving a game that hates me.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Gearing Up For Another World Series...and the Inevitable Result

Soooo...my predictions were just a bit off. I did all right predicting the early rounds, but I got both pennant winners wrong. I sure underestimated the Giants and Royals.

I'm not going to waste my time doing much analysis of this World Series, since it's a given that the Giants are going to win. I predict five games tops. The Royals have been a streaky team all year, so they're due to cool off soon. They have the look of one of those fun, memorable teams that doesn't quite win it all, while the Giants are a member of the Oligopoly, so the end result is a foregone conclusion. Still, I'll tune in, just to say I've seen the Royals play in the World Series. Given the size of their market, and how much broke right just for them to get this far, it's possible we won't see them here again for another 29 years.

Hats off to you, Royals. I've enjoyed watching your run, and the fans in Kansas City should always cherish this. It's just not destiny, because you're not one of the privileged big-ticket franchises that gets to win the World Series. I would love to be wrong on this, but I don't think I am. Take comfort in knowing that in the future, this one will be just another Giants title, while it'll be a legendary season in Royals lore. That has to count for something.

Monday, September 29, 2014

Playoff Predictions 2014

All righty then. Tomorrow the postseason officially begins with the stupid Wild Card Game That Nobody Wanted. Before I make any predictions though, I'd like to rank the teams in order of my preference to see them win the World Series:

1. Washington Nationals. I've been following this team all season, and besides that, they've never won a World Series, even when they were the Expos. I always had a soft spot for the Expos, as they were the first team I considered my own (long story), and now I live in an area where their games are broadcast. Nothing could be more awesome than to see them claim their first World Series trophy.

2. Baltimore Orioles. Here in the Mid-Atlantic region, I've had access to their games all year too, and they've given me plenty of exciting moments. I feel a special connection to this year's Oriole team.

3. Pittsburgh Pirates. A small market team that's been waiting a long time, and has a lot of uncertainty going forward. Their window to win might not be that large.

4. Kansas City Royals. Pretty much the same as what I said about the Pirates. It's exciting to see them in the playoffs for the first time in my fandom.

5. Detroit Tigers. I like the Tigers, and would love to see them win their first World Series in 30 years, but they'll likely still be competitive for several years more, and there's no sense of urgency about this team.

6. Oakland Athletics. I just don't get much of a charge out of them. They have some small-market, clever-roster-construction appeal, but they don't grab my fancy like the teams above do.

7. Los Angeles Dodgers. A big market team that'll likely be in contention for years. I'd be happy for them, because I've never seen them win it, but being a glamor franchise, it's not as fun to root for them. No underdog appeal.

8. Los Angeles Angels. Saw 'em win it in 2002. Though this team is completely different than that one, I want to see a new franchise as champion.

9. San Francisco Giants. Though they've won it twice this decade, and more recently than the next team, they at least have fans that are generally cool and not self-congratulatory clowns.

10. St. Louis Cardinals. There's nothing likable about this team. Nothing whatsoever. They are the epitome of evil.

OK, that said, how do I think it's actually going to play out? Well, the bottom four teams above are all part of what I call "The Oligopoly," so I believe one of them will win it in the end, unfortunately. So here's what I'm going to predict:

Wild Card Games:

Kansas City over Oakland  (I don't think Oakland's that good, and Kansas City will be pumped up at home)
San Francisco over Pittsburgh  (Just a feeling about this one, since Pittsburgh in the LDS two years in a row would be crazy)

Divisional Series:

LA Angels over Kansas City  (The Royals will probably give 'em a good fight but come up short)
Baltimore over Detroit  (Detroit's bullpen is concerning, and Baltimore has had its share of late inning heroics this year)
St. Louis over LA Dodgers  (I just can't pick against the Cardinals. They're most dangerous when you count them out)
San Francisco over Washington  (I love this Nats team, so it's hard to believe they could get past a media darling like the Giants)

League Championship Series:

Baltimore over LA Angels  (I have a feeling about the Orioles this year...that they're destined to be 2014's dangling false hope, like the Tigers were in 2012)
St. Louis over San Francisco  (The Cardinals always get the last laugh, and some are still bitter over 2012)

World Series:

St. Louis over Baltimore (Of course)

The only alternate scenario I could see would be the Dodgers taking the place of the Cardinals. First they'd beat St. Louis, then defeat the Giants in a battle of lifelong rivals, and then cap off Kershaw's magical year with another victory for the Oligopoly. So really, that first round series between the Dodgers and Cardinals is the one the postseason hinges on. You heard it here first.

Isn't it fun being bitter and cynical about the game you love?

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Oldest Ringless Players: 2014

After a final day of the season where a few tiebreakers were avoided, it's officially that time of year again! Time to look at each postseason team's roster and determine who the oldest guy without a World Series ring is! I still don't approve of the Wild Card game, but I'm still technically counting it.

If you've been reading my blog all these years (as you surely have), you know the rules: The player here must be on the 40-man roster at the end of the season, and to throw in a new rule, he must have played for the team this season, for reasons discussed below. Any older players who might be in line to get a ring aren't mentioned. So here we go!

Baltimore Orioles: Nelson Cruz (July 1, 1980)
Detroit Tigers: Joe Nathan (November 22, 1974)
Kansas City Royals: Raul Ibanez (June 2, 1972)
Los Angeles Angels: Jason Grilli (November 11, 1976)
Los Angeles Dodgers: Jamey Wright (December 24, 1974)
Oakland Athletics: Adam Dunn (November 9, 1979)
Pittsburgh Pirates: Clint Barmes (March 6, 1979)
San Francisco Giants: Tim Hudson (July 14, 1975)
St. Louis Cardinals: Mark Ellis (June 6, 1977)
Washington Nationals: Adam LaRoche (November 6, 1979)

Johan Santana (born March 13, 1979) is on the Orioles' 40-man, but since he hasn't played this year, I didn't think it right to count him. Would he even get a ring if the Orioles won the World Series? I didn't actually realize how relatively young the Orioles were until I looked just now.

In fact, it's amazing how much youth there is on this list even compared to last year's. Last year the youngest player was Carlos Beltran (born April 24, 1977). This year there are five players younger than that. It looks like a lot of veterans from last year ended up on bad teams this year or retired.

With no Yankees or Red Sox in the playoffs for the first time since I've been a fan, the AL is looking interesting. The Cardinals and Giants still lurk in the NL to ruin it though, so we'll see how that turns out. I'll do a separate post for my playoff predictions.

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Run That Clinched It

As longtime readers of this blog might know, I have a fascination with World Series champions. Some I love, others I loathe, but they all accomplished the goal every team opens the season with, and only one can claim by the end.

I was recently thinking about one of those teams I hate: The 2007 Boston Red Sox. In the final game, pinch-hitter Bobby Kielty hit a solo homer to add an insurance run for the Red Sox which didn't seem significant at the time. However, his team ended up winning by only one run, and that homer represented the last run the team scored, so in retrospect it was the run that clinched the World Series. It got me thinking: What was that run for each team in history? Who drove it in? Who scored it? I thought it would be fun to compile just such a list.

To be clear, this is a list of the last run necessary for the team to win the World Series. If the team scored 11 runs in the final game and won in a shutout, the first run they scored is considered the clinching run. Here's how the list looks:

Some interesting notes here. In 1927 it ended on a wild pitch with Tony Lazzeri at the plate. Five times the run has scored on an error, though it hasn't happened since 1921. In 1962 it scored on a double play ball. Only three times was the clinching RBI on a triple, which isn't too surprising, given the rarity of triples. In two cases the run was driven in by a pitcher (Johnny Podres in 1959 and Bob Gibson in 1967). Derek Jeter scored the clinching run in all three of the Yankees' World Series titles of the 1990's.

I'm not sure how many of these men knew how key a role they played in their team's victory, but here, we recognize every last one of them.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

All-Star Break Report

Well, we're just past the halfway point of the season, and after last night's Derek Jeter tongue bath All Star Game, we have the official "second half" to look forward to. Let's take a look at the standings, and see if we can't make any predictions about what October might have in store. Bear in mind, I believe in the oligopoly, so I'm not optimistic about seeing anything interesting happen. We'll see how things look in comparison to my preseason predictions.

AL East:

The first-place team is surprisingly the Orioles, who have a four-game lead over the Blue Jays. It would be nice to see someone besides the Yankees, Red Sox or Rays win this division (well, I don't mind the Rays so much), and this would seem to be the year for one of the others to do it. However, the Yankees and Red Sox are members of the oligopoly, while I don't think any other team in this division is, so until they're eliminated, I can't count either one of them out. This division is packed pretty tightly, so even the teams at the bottom still have a shot. Although losing Masahiro Tanaka would be a huge blow, I stand by my prediction that the Yankees are somehow, someway going to win this division. They're evil. It's what they do. I had the Rays winning a Wild Card spot, but I don't see them pulling that off this year.

AL Central:

The current standings are exactly the same as my predicted final standings, so I'm looking pretty good there. I'll stick with my prediction that the Tigers win the Central, and as for my Wild Card prediction for the Royals, I'll stand by that too. They're close behind the Mariners in the race for the stupid second Wild Card spot that nobody wanted, so I think they can still do it. I hope they do.

AL West:

This division has the team with the best record in baseball, the Oakland Athletics. The A's seem to be going all in this year, trading away their top two prospects for starting pitching. After years of frequent-but-forgettable playoff performances, it seems that they're ready to make this year special. I would love to see it, but there's just one problem: They're not part of the oligopoly, so they won't win the World Series, as much as I'd love to see it happen. The Angels are close behind the A's, and they're sort of a fringe oligopoly member, so I could see them possibly winning the World Series, but I wouldn't particularly be interested in that. I picked the Rangers to win this division, but after a bargeload of injuries, their season's already a lost cause. I'm going to amend my prediction to Oakland winning the division and Anaheim winning the Wild Card. The surprising Mariners will fall short.

NL East:

This is pretty much a two-team race between the Nationals and Braves. As a National rooter, I'd like to see them do it, but they're not part of the oligopoly, unlike the Braves. I had the Nats winning the division and the Braves the Wild Card, and I guess I'll stick by that.

NL Central:

I predicted the Brewers would finish in last place, but they're actually in first, surprisingly. I don't think they're for real though, and don't expect them to make the postseason. I also made the out-of-left-field prediction that the Cubs would win the Wild Card, and I think it's safe to say I look like a fool on that one, as they currently sit in last place and have already punted on this season. No biggie. I figured I'd be wrong. I just wanted bragging rights in case I was right. I predicted that the Cardinals would win the division, and even when they struggled early on, I said they were going to do it. I stand by that prediction, because the Cardinals are pure evil and always find a way. Though this is a four-team race on paper, I say it's inevitable that St. Louis takes it and the Brewers, Reds and Pirates are all left out in the cold.

NL West:

This is another two-team race between the Giants and Dodgers. Rivalry! I had the Dodgers winning the division and the Giants in second place. I stand by that prediction, although I'll amend it to have the Giants winning a Wild Card spot.

So here are my amended predictions at the All-Star Break:

NL Wild Card: Giants over Braves
AL Wild Card: Angels over Royals

NLDS1: Cardinals over Giants
NLDS2: Dodgers over Nationals
ALDS1: Angels over Athletics
ALDS2: Tigers over Yankees

NLCS: Cardinals over Dodgers
ALCS: Angels over Tigers

World Series: Cardinals over Angels

Let's see how much more accurate these are.

Monday, June 2, 2014

1950 vs. 1990: 24 Years Later

In my last post, I shared a list of deceased players from the 1990 season. Once again, here it is:

Giants (4): Dan Quisenberry, Russ Swan, Jose Uribe, Gary Carter
Astros (3): Andujar Cedeno, Ken Caminiti, Dave Smith
Blue Jays (3): John Cerutti, Mike Flanagan, Frank Wills
Dodgers (3): Tim Crews, Mike Sharperson, Brian Traxler
Phillies (2): Ron Jones, Darrel Akerfelds
Reds (2): Tim Layana, Rick Mahler
White Sox (2): Ivan Calderon, Carlos Martinez
Yankees (2): Oscar Azocar, Pascual Perez
Angels (1): Cliff Young
Brewers (1): Gus Polidor
Cardinals (1): Howard Hilton
Indians (1): Steve Olin
Mariners (1): Russ Swan
Orioles (1): Kevin Hickey
Padres (1): Eric Show
Red Sox (1): John Marzano
Twins (1): Kirby Puckett
Athletics (0)
Braves (0)
Cubs (0)
Expos (0)
Mets (0)
Pirates (0)
Rangers (0)
Royals (0)
Tigers (0)

I thought it would be interesting to compile the same information for another season and see if it told us anything interesting. The year I chose was 1950, since it's another year ending with zero, and it makes for simple comparison. Today is June 2, 2014, and no new deaths from 1990 have been reported since then. On June 2, 1974, how many players from the 1950 season had died? Here's how that list looks:

Braves (4): Vern Bickford, Bob Elliott, Murray Wall, Bob Chipman
Reds (4): Howie Fox, Willie Ramsdell, Ron Northey, Herm Wehmeier
Senators (4): Joe Haynes, Sherry Robertson, Mickey Harris, Roberto Ortiz
Tigers (4): Fred Hutchinson, Aaron Robinson, Bob Swift, Dizzy Trout
Athletics (3): Paul Lehner, Roberto Ortiz, Dick Fowler
Dodgers (3): Willie Ramsdell, Gil Hodges, Jackie Robinson
Indians (3): Herb Conyers, Sam Zoldak, Al Benton
Browns (2): Snuffy Stirnweiss, Cliff Fannin
Cubs (2): Monk Dubiel, Ron Northey
Giants (2): Tookie Gilbert, Hank Thompson
Pirates (2): Frank Papish, Danny O'Connell
Red Sox (2): Ellis Kinder, Vern Stephens
Cardinals (1): Al Brazle
Phillies (1): Eddie Waitkus
White Sox (1): Bill Salkeld
Yankees (1): Snuffy Stirnweiss

What a striking difference! Every single 1950 team had at least one deceased player 24 years later (or about 23 and a half, if you want to get technical), whereas a third of the 1990 teams didn't have any. The Giants were the only 1990 team with as many as four deceased players, whereas four 1990 teams had that many. 1990 had 29 total deceased players, whereas 1950 had 35, and that's with ten fewer teams using fewer players on average.

It might be more interesting to look at it in terms of percentages:

As we can see, 24 years later, 6.6% of the players from 1950 were dead, but 24 years after 1990, only 2.82% are dead. Only three 1990 teams had a higher percentage of deceased players than all of 1950 MLB did. I know that life expectancy has increased over the years, but seeing it laid out like this is quite fascinating. It'd be interesting to compare all this with an even earlier season, but I don't have that data compiled right now.

I'm reminded of the 1951 movie Angels in the Outfield. In the movie, there's a washed-up veteran pitcher named Saul Hellman who receives some heavenly help to get the Pirates into the pennant race. At one point in the movie, the angel who speaks to manager Guffy McGovern reveals that Saul is going to be called home next year, and that this season is his last hurrah. It seemed unusual to me to suppose that an active major leaguer was going to die so shortly after the end of his career, but at the time the movie was made, such a thing wasn't uncommon, and most viewers would've remembered an era when such things were even less uncommon. It seems that we've taken life more for granted the more advanced the methods of preserving it have become.

I think I'll continue to compile information like this. Perhaps I should do 1910 next, so that the backward progression is consistent.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Deceased players from 1990

All I've got for you right now is a list, but hopefully in the future we can do something more interesting with this information. As of right now, based on the records we have available, there are 29 deceased players from the 1990 season, and here's how they break down by team:

Giants (4): Dan Quisenberry, Russ Swan, Jose Uribe, Gary Carter
Astros (3): Andujar Cedeno, Ken Caminiti, Dave Smith
Blue Jays (3): John Cerutti, Mike Flanagan, Frank Wills
Dodgers (3): Tim Crews, Mike Sharperson, Brian Traxler
Phillies (2): Ron Jones, Darrel Akerfelds
Reds (2): Tim Layana, Rick Mahler
White Sox (2): Ivan Calderon, Carlos Martinez
Yankees (2): Oscar Azocar, Pascual Perez
Angels (1): Cliff Young
Brewers (1): Gus Polidor
Cardinals (1): Howard Hilton
Indians (1): Steve Olin
Mariners (1): Russ Swan
Orioles (1): Kevin Hickey
Padres (1): Eric Show
Red Sox (1): John Marzano
Twins (1): Kirby Puckett
Athletics (0)
Braves (0)
Cubs (0)
Expos (0)
Mets (0)
Pirates (0)
Rangers (0)
Royals (0)
Tigers (0) 

It's a bit incredible that one team from 24 years ago already has four dead members, while nine have none. In the future, I'd like to compare this data with data from other years to see what it tells us about the changes in life expectancy. For now, it's just an interesting curiosity for you.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

A New Ultimate Number Player: Michael Young

You may remember this post, where I selected Ron Santo as the Ultimate #10. Not many players have been able to wear #10 with every stint with every team they played for, so Santo's two teams make him the guy, since pictures of Lefty Grove with a visible #10 are rare.

However, this is no longer the case. With the retirement of Michael Young last year, we have a player who played with three different franchises in his career, and wore #10 with each of them! And considering how bad he was his last two seasons, it's a fairly safe bet that he's not coming back. It was time for the guy to go.

Ron Santo, as a Cub fan I love ya, but your title belongs to someone else now. Please welcome the new Ultimate #10: Michael Young!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Predictions For 2014

Since Opening Day is nearly upon us, I thought I would put down my preseason predictions, and at the end of the season, we'll see how horribly wrong (or horribly right, as the case may be) they were.

NL West

1. Los Angeles Dodgers
2. San Francisco Giants
3. Arizona Diamondbacks
4. Colorado Rockies
5. San Diego Padres

NL Central

1. St. Louis Cardinals
2. Chicago Cubs (WC)
3. Cincinnati Reds
4. Pittsburgh Pirates
5. Milwaukee Brewers

NL East

1. Washington Nationals
2. Atlanta Braves (WC)
3. Philadelphia Phillies
4. New York Mets
5. Miami Marlins

AL West

1. Texas Rangers
2. Oakland Athletics
3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
4. Seattle Mariners
5. Houston Astros

AL Central

1. Detroit Tigers
2. Kansas City Royals (WC)
3. Cleveland Indians
4. Chicago White Sox
5. Minnesota Twins

AL East

1. New York Yankees
2. Tampa Bay Rays (WC)
3. Boston Red Sox
4. Baltimore Orioles
5. Toronto Blue Jays


NL Wild Card: Atlanta over Chicago
AL Wild Card: Kansas City over Tampa Bay

NLDS 1: Los Angeles over Atlanta
NLDS 2: St. Louis over Washington
ALDS 1: New York over Kansas City
ALDS 2: Texas over Detroit

NLCS: St. Louis over Los Angeles
ALCS: New York over Texas

World Series: New York Yankees over St. Louis Cardinals

I don't think any of my picks are too "out there," except my pick of the Cubs to win a Wild Card spot. Why am I picking them to win it, when the universal consensus is that the Cubs are at least a year away from contending? That's a secret. Even so, I have them losing the useless play-in game, so it won't much matter anyway.

Though baseball hates me, and I'm expecting another rotten ending to the season, maybe the regular season will have some memorable moments. I'm expecting the Royals to be this year's Pirates, so that'll be this year's fun ride. Let's do this.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

World Series Losers: The Plus Years

You should know how this works by now, as there have been three previous posts with this theme. Let's just jump right in. Who are the Plus Year leaders among the teams that lost the World Series?


Median: 22
Top Teams: 1991 ATL (32), 2007 COL (31), 1955 NYY (30), 2009 DET (29)
Bottom Teams: 1905 PHA (15), 1921 NYY (15), 1942 NYY (15), 2003 NYY (15), 1906 CHC (16), 1908 DET (16), 1922 NYY (16), 1943 STL (16)

After that magical 1991 season, the Braves wanted to bring back as much of the old gang as possible. Of course, many of those players were traded or released during the 1992 season, so it all evens out. It's not surprising that so many of the bottom teams played in an era of smaller rosters, but that 2003 Yankees team stands out. After losing to the Marlins, George Steinbrenner wanted him an overhaul.


Median: 16
Top Teams: 1965 MIN (22), 1969 BAL (22), 1979 BAL (22), 1991 ATL (21)
Bottom Teams: 1919 CHW (7), 1903 PIT (9), 1921 NYY (10), 1946 BOS (10)

The Orioles and Braves were definitely built around strong cores, but the 1965 Twins are something of a surprise. That was one of the more underrated cores in baseball history. As for the bottom teams, we can see that the Black Sox Scandal hit Comiskey's boys hard.


Median: 12
Top Teams: 1979 BAL (18), 1947 BRO (17), 1978 LAD (17), 1909 DET (16), 1934 DET (16), 1955 NYY (16), 1962 SFG (16), 1969 BAL (16), 1988 OAK (16)
Bottom Teams: 1998 SDP (5), 1914 PHA (6), 1919 CHW (6), 1940 DET (6), 2005 HOU (6), 1924 NYG (7), 1931 PHA (7), 1941 BRO (7), 2001 NYY (7), 2003 NYY (7)

The most impressive team in the top group is the 1909 Tigers. Even in the smaller-roster era, they had 16 of those players three years later. The bottom teams are more interesting. We see teams that had fire sales, the infamous Black Sox again, some teams just before World War II, and teams that were full of veterans at the end of the line. So close, and yet, so far.


Median: 9
Top Teams: 1952 BRO (16), 1955 NYY (16), 1947 BRO (15), 1979 BAL (15), 1942 NYY (14), 1956 BRO (13), 1969 BAL (13), 1974 LAD (13), 1988 OAK (13), 1992 ATL (13)
Bottom Teams: 1914 PHA (2), 1998 SDP (2), 1938 CHC (3), 1910 CHC (4), 1924 NYG (4), 1944 SLB (4), 1945 CHC (4), 1987 STL (4), 2002 SFG (4)

Imagine going to the World Series, and then having only two of those players still on the team four years later. Before I compiled this information, I didn't realize the Padres had done that just recently.


Median: 7
Top Teams: 1979 BAL (14), 1949 BRO (12), 1974 LAD (12), 1941 BRO (11), 1950 PHI (11), 1955 NYY (11), 1980 KCR (11)
Bottom Teams: 1931 PHA (1), 1944 SLB (1), 1998 SDP (1), 2000 NYM (1), 1914 PHA (2), 1945 CHC (2)

Two forgotten cores, the 1950's Phillies and the 1980's Royals, pop up in the top group.


Median: 5
Top Teams: 1940 DET (11), 1966 LAD (10), 1979 BAL (10), 1943 STL (9), 1949 BRO (9), 1950 PHI (9), 1955 NYY (9), 1974 LAD (9)
Bottom Teams: 1944 SLB (0), 2000 NYM (0), 1914 PHA (1), 1915 PHI (1), 1931 PHA (1), 1954 CLE (1), 1985 STL (1), 1993 PHI (1)

Now we see some teams who had no one left six years later. The 1944 Browns I can understand, as that was mostly a collection of WWII fill-ins playing for a financially-strapped franchise, but the 2000 Mets? Yes, that 2006 team that came within one game of the World Series actually had no players in common with the pennant-winner of six years before. The top team here is the 1940 Tigers, who saw a lot of their guys come back after the war to reclaim their old spots.


Median: 4
Top Teams: 1949 BRO (9), 1955 NYY (9), 1988 OAK (9), 1943 STL (8), 1950 PHI (8), 1962 SFG (8)
Bottom Teams: 1914 PHA (0), 1920 BRO (0), 1944 SLB (0), 1954 CLE (0), 2000 NYM (0)

The teams with none are piling up.


Median: 3
Top Teams: 1943 STL (7), 1949 BRO (7), 1950 PHI (7), 1955 NYY (6), 1962 SFG (6)
Bottom Teams: 1910 CHC (0), 1914 PHA (0), 1915 PHI (0), 1920 BRO (0), 1954 CLE (0), 1997 CLE (0), 2000 NYM (0), 2002 SFG (0), 2005 HOU (0)

That Whiz Kids core is still hanging around the top group. Two of these franchises in the bottom group won pennants in their Plus-8 seasons, the 1910 Cubs and the 2002 Giants. Apparently they needed to cleanse their rosters of all the guys from their last pennant-winner before they could win another.


Median: 2
Top Teams: 1909 DET (6), 1947 BRO (6), 1949 BRO (6), 1950 PHI (5), 1955 NYY (5), 2001 NYY (5)
Bottom Teams: 1910 CHC (0), 1914 PHA (0), 1918 CHC (0), 1920 BRO (0), 1933 WSH (0), 1960 NYY (0), 1963 NYY (0), 1990 OAK (0), 2000 NYM (0), 2002 SFG (0)

The 1918 Tigers saw several old faces come back, namely Bill Donovan and Davy Jones, plus an in-game appearance from manager Hughie Jennings, explaining their sudden appearance tied for the top spot.


Median: 2
Top Teams: 1955 NYY (5)
Bottom Teams: 18 teams

1955 was truly the beginning of a new era for the Yankees, as the core that carried them for the next ten years started to emerge. As you can also see, we're at the point where it's not uncommon to have no one left either.


Median: 1
Top Teams: 1907 DET (4), 1940 DET (4), 1947 BRO (4), 1955 NYY (4), 1992 ATL (4)
Bottom Teams: 27 teams

The good cores representin'!


Median: 1
Top Teams: 1935 CHC (4), 1940 DET (4), 2001 NYY (4), 1947 BRO (3), 1955 NYY (3), 1969 BAL (3), 1972 CIN (3), 1976 NYY (3), 1991 ATL (3), 1996 ATL (3)
Bottom Teams: 35 teams

Alfonso Soriano's return to the Bronx last season allowed the 2001 Yankees to join the top group. The 1935 Cubs are the real surprise, but the late-career returns of Billy Jurges and Bill Lee put them here.


Median: 1
Top Teams: 1925 WSH (4), 1932 CHC (3), 1940 DET (3), 1943 STL (3), 1947 BRO (3), 1972 CIN (3)

The 1925 Senators? Really? Believe it. The returns of Goose Goslin and Harry Kelley make it possible.


Median: 0
Top Teams: 1925 WSH (3), 1943 STL (3), 1970 CIN (3), 1972 CIN (3), 1911 NYG (2), 1912 NYG (2), 1914 PHA (2), 1932 CHC (2), 1947 BRO (2), 1975 BOS (2)


Median: 0
Top Teams: 1970 CIN (3), 1932 CHC (2)

The 1932 Cubs are the only team with as many as two...except the 1970 Reds, who win with three.


Median: 0
Top Teams: 1970 CIN (3), 1909 DET (2), 1914 PHA (2), 1992 ATL (2)

The Philadelphia A's brought back Eddie Collins and Wally Schang at the end of their careers, making them one of the top teams in the Plus-16 year despite being one of the bottom teams in the Plus-3 year.


Median: 0
Top Teams: 1991 ATL (2)

The Glavine-Smoltz duo was something truly special, and don't you ever forget it.


Median: 0
Top Teams: 1907 DET, 1908 DET, 1927 PIT, 1935 CHC, 1943 STL, 1951 NYG, 1962 SFG, 1970 CIN

Most players who put their teams here are Hall of Famers, but two (Phil Cavarretta and Dave Concepcion) are not, and another (Lloyd Waner) probably shouldn't be.


Median: 0
Top Teams: 1907 DET, 1943 STL, 1951 NYG

Cobb, Musial, Mays...


Median: 0
Top Teams: 1943 STL, 1951 NYG

Musial, Mays...


Median: 0
Top Teams: 1951 NYG



Median: 0
Top Teams: 1966 LAD

...and then Don Sutton returned to the Dodgers for one last season, where they won the World Series two months after he was released.

So that does it for the World Series editions of these lists. I might have more along these lines in the future though, since I'm trying to compile this info for every team, not just the ones that made it to the World Series. We'll see if anything comes of that.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

World Series Losers: The Minus Years

Almost exactly a year ago, I did a two-part series that looked at all the World Series Champions and the differing player acquisition and attrition levels from those teams. I've spent the last year compiling the same information on every World Series losing team, and finally the results are in! If you need a refresher on how this works, I'd recommend reading the first post in the series, where I explain it all.

Anyway, how 'bout them runners-up?


Median: 0
Top Teams: 1933 WSH

Senators coach Nick Altrock and his late-season pinch-hitting appearance are the only thing to make a blip here. When Altrock's career as a regular player ended with the Senators in 1909, it began a long association with the franchise as a coach and baseball clown, who frequently made odd appearances in games for amusement's sake.






Median: 0
Top Teams: 1933 WSH

Altrock again, this time linked to a pitching appearance he'd made in 1912. Amazing that we have a publicity stunt connected to a publicity stunt here.


Median: 0
Top Teams: 1933 WSH

Guess who?


Median: 0
Top Teams: 1933 WSH

Yep, that's right!


Median: 0
Top Teams: 1933 WSH (2), 1925 WSH, 1954 CLE, 1989 SFG, 2011 TEX

The '33 Senators have two now, Altrock and Hall of Famer Sam Rice. Several other teams join the list, by virtue of great players like Walter Johnson! Bob Feller! Chris...Speier! Darren...Oliver? Well, they were players good enough to stick around, at least.


Median: 0
Top Teams: 1925 WSH, 1933 WSH, 1945 CHC, 1954 CLE, 1963 NYY, 1989 SFG, 2005 HOU, 2010 TEX, 2011 TEX

Much the same group, this time joined by the Yankees of Yogi Berra, the Astros of Craig Biggio and the Cubs of Johnny Moore.


Median: 0
Top Teams: 1925 WSH, 1933 WSH, 1938 CHC, 1940 DET, 1945 CHC, 1954 CLE, 1956 BRO, 1958 MLN, 1963 NYY, 1971 BAL, 1981 NYY, 1989 SFG, 1998 SDP, 2005 HOU, 2010 TEX, 2011 TEX

So many teams, but none has more than one player to represent it!


Median: 0
Top Teams: 1933 WSH (2), 1925 WSH, 1938 CHC, 1940 DET, 1945 CHC, 1954 CLE, 1956 BRO, 1963 NYY, 1968 STL, 1971 BAL, 1981 NYY, 1989 SFG, 1990 OAK, 1998 SDP, 2005 HOU, 2010 TEX, 2011 TEX

Nick Altrock appeared again in 1918 to put the '33 Senators back in the lead.


Median: 0
Top Teams: 1933 WSH (2), 1945 CHC (2), 1979 BAL (2), 2005 HOU (2)

Several teams are into the twos now. I'll bet most people couldn't name either of the two for the 1945 Cubs.


Median: 0
Top Teams: 1945 CHC (3), 1954 CLE (3), 1914 PHA (2), 1924 NYG (2), 1936 NYG (2), 1963 NYY (2), 1966 LAD (2), 1979 BAL (2), 1989 SFG (2), 2005 HOU (2)


Median: 1
Top Teams: 1942 NYY (3), 1914 PHA (2), 1924 NYG (2), 1933 WSH (2), 1936 NYG (2), 1938 CHC (2), 1945 CHC (2), 1954 CLE (2), 1963 NYY (2), 1966 LAD (2), 1975 BOS (2), 1979 BAL (2), 1986 BOS (2), 1989 SFG (2), 2005 HOU (2)


Median: 1
Top Teams: 1942 NYY (4), 1914 PHA (3), 1933 WSH (3), 1936 NYG (3), 1945 CHC (3), 1966 LAD (3), 1983 PHI (3)

The Yankees and their deep pockets are in the top spot all alone.


Median: 1
Top Teams: 1942 NYY (5), 1983 PHI (5), 1936 NYG (4), 1979 BAL (4)
Bottom Teams: 31 teams

The Paul Owens Phillies kept their players together better than a lot of people probably remember.


Median: 2
Top Teams: 1956 BRO (6), 1983 PHI (6), 1964 NYY (5), 1966 LAD (5), 1971 BAL (5)
Bottom Teams: 17 teams

1947 began the Jackie Robinson era in Brooklyn, as well as the beginning of one of the most successful player cores ever.


Median: 2
Top Teams: 1956 BRO (8), 1942 NYY (7), 2003 NYY (7), 1914 PHA (6), 1963 NYY (6), 1966 LAD (6), 1978 LAD (6), 1983 PHI (6)
Bottom Teams: 12 teams

That Brooklyn core gets more impressive with the 1948 debuts of Roy Campanella and Carl Erskine. It's not surprising that each of these teams at the top here was becoming somewhat dynastic.


Median: 3
Top Teams: 1956 BRO (9), 1966 LAD (8), 2003 NYY (8), 1942 NYY (7), 1955 NYY (7), 1957 NYY (7), 1978 LAD (7), 1999 ATL (7)
Bottom Teams: 1903 PIT (0), 1918 CHC (0), 1943 STL (0), 1951 NYG (0), 1967 BOS (0), 1984 SDP (0), 1992 ATL (0)

Then, in 1949, Don Newcombe joined the Brooklyn crew. We can also finally can see who the teams at the bottom were, and they were all teams near the beginning of an emergence. Not surprising.


Median: 4
Top Teams: 1978 LAD (12), 1956 BRO (11), 1914 PHA (10), 2001 NYY (10)
Bottom Teams: 1903 PIT (0), 1918 CHC (0), 1984 SDP (0), 1992 ATL (0)

Who knew that 1972 would be such a year of beginnings for the Los Angeles Dodgers? The 2001 Yankees also come out of nowhere to score high on this list thanks to the returns that year of '95-ers Randy Velarde and Sterling Hitchcock.


Median: 5
Top Teams: 1958 MLN (13), 1913 NYG (12), 1914 PHA (12), 1946 BOS (12), 1953 BRO (12), 1956 BRO (12), 1977 LAD (12), 1978 LAD (12)
Bottom Teams: 1903 PIT (1), 1918 CHC (1), 1991 ATL (1), 1907 DET (2), 1923 NYG (2), 1941 BRO (2), 1984 SDP (2), 2006 DET (2)

Every World Series loser had at least one player on their roster five seasons earlier, just as it was with the World Series Champions. We can see that the Braves' first year in Milwaukee was truly the beginning of an era as far as player personnel was concerned too.


Median: 8
Top Teams: 1913 NYG (16), 1955 NYY (16), 1956 BRO (16), 1958 MLN (14), 1971 BAL (14)
Bottom Teams: 1918 CHC (1), 1903 PIT (2), 1907 DET (3), 1984 SDP (3), 1988 OAK (3)

The teams at the top clearly knew the value of keeping a good thing together. The teams at the bottom knew how to rebuild quickly.


Median: 11
Top Teams: 1912 NYG (17), 1919 CHW (16), 1942 NYY (16), 1953 BRO (16), 1955 NYY (16), 1958 MLN (16), 1964 NYY (16), 1971 BAL (16), 1996 ATL (16)
Bottom Teams: 1918 CHC (3), 1948 BSN (4), 2008 TBR (4), 1988 OAK (6), 1903 PIT (7), 1940 DET (7), 1944 SLB (7), 1967 BOS (7), 1970 CIN (7)


Median: 15
Top Teams: 1966 LAD (22), 1971 BAL (22), 1945 CHC (21), 1964 NYY (20), 1978 LAD (20), 1990 OAK (20)
Bottom Teams: 1940 DET (8), 1922 NYY (9), 1903 PIT (10), 1906 CHC (10), 1918 CHC (10), 1921 NYY (10), 1934 DET (10), 1944 SLB (10), 1946 BOS (10)

It's curious that the 1945 Cubs keep popping up among the top teams. It seems that the Minus-2 year is where a pennant winner tends to begin to take shape.


Median: 21
Top Teams: 1992 ATL (32), 2013 STL (28), 1958 MLN (27), 1959 CHW (27), 1989 SFG (27), 2011 TEX (27), 2012 DET (27)
Bottom Teams: 1906 CHC (11), 1946 BOS (11), 1903 PIT (13), 1921 NYY (13), 1905 PHI (14), 1915 PHI (14), 1922 NYY (15), 1933 WSH (15), 1935 CHC (15)

The 1992 Braves brought back a whopping 32 players. I guess after that Cinderella season in 1991 they didn't have the heart to get rid of anyone (although they did get rid of some of them during the 1992 season). The teams at the bottom, unsurprisingly, come from an era of smaller rosters.

So there's your interesting trivia for the day. Next time we'll look at the plus years from the World Series losers!

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Top Position Player Sleepers for Fantasy Baseball in 2014 (Sponsored Post)

Between now and the end of Spring Training, there will be a lot of fantasy baseball chatter about possible sleepers heading into the 2014 MLB regular season. For those who draft early, here’s an early list of sleepers to keep an eye on at each position.

Catcher – Dioner Navarro

The catcher position is not necessarily deep in fantasy baseball, but Navarro will be given a nice opportunity in 2014. As a backup in Chicago last season, he hit .300 while also showing some nice slugging numbers. Toronto should have a potent lineup, and Navarro will get more opportunities at the plate. He'll make a great stack player in FanDuel lineups all year long

1st Base – Chris Davis

This might sound a bit weird to list a MVP candidate as a sleeper, but the fact of the matter is a lot of fantasy baseball owners are completely overlooking him. The consensus is he had a bit of luck in 2013, and that will dry up this season. He might not hit 53 home runs, but he will still be a top five option.

2nd Base – Jurickson Profar

The hype has settled a bit on the young 2nd baseman for the Texas Rangers, but this might actually turn out to be his true rookie season. He was a hot prospect in 2013, but a lack of consistent playing time at the same position hurt him. Ian Kinsler is gone, and that means Profar can settle in as an everyday 2nd baseman for one of the best offenses in the game.

3rd Base – Will Middlebrooks

The defending World Series champions appear to be ready to give Xander Bogaerts the starting shortstop job, which means that Middlebrooks should be ready for a bounce back 2014 campaign. He hit .288 in 2012 with plenty of power, but he struggled with a .227 average in 2013. A full-time return to 3rd base could cure his woes.

Shortstop – Asdrubal Cabrera

Even though he has been fairly consistent in Cleveland, Cabrera tends to get overlooked. His .242 batting average was rough in 2013, but he did hit 14 home runs and remained a stolen base threat. If he can get back to his career average in the .270 to .280 range, he should provide plenty of value.

Outfield – JB Shuck, George Springer, Corey Dickerson

Baseball has become a more athletic game in recent years, and this outfield trio clearly illustrates that. All three should be poised for double-digit stolen bases in 2014, with the chance to contribute in several other categories as well.

Springer and Dickerson have power to go with their speed, while Shuck is more of an on-base percentage guy. All three are still relatively young, so they should have a few more years to really evolve as fantasy baseball standouts. They also will all get their chance to be full-time players for the first time in 2014. Springer has the most potential, while Dickerson appears to be the closest to a sure thing with his starting job in Colorado.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

The 2014 Hall of Fame Class is Stacked

Congratulations to this year's six newest Hall of Famers: Joe Torre, Bobby Cox, Tony LaRussa, Frank Thomas, Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine! All are worthy additions in my book, and it's only a shame that several other deserving candidates aren't joining them this year. I'm also glad that one very undeserving candidate, who's been a cause célèbre for the last several years, didn't make it, but this isn't a time for disparagement.

My favorite of those to be inducted is Frank Thomas, as I grew up watching him during his prime years with the White Sox. At this point, the narrative that seems to have been written for the Big Hurt is that he was poised to become the greatest right-handed hitter of all time before he had his decline around the age of 30, but boy, his peak was incredible to watch. In the hearts of White Sox fans, though, he'll always have a place as perhaps the franchise's all-time greatest player.

All the home runs and big hits were fun, but my favorite memory of him remains one that I witnessed firsthand when my father took me up to Milwaukee to see the Sox face the Brewers in 1995. We had mezzanine seats at Milwaukee County Stadium, which gave us a good overview of the field. Between innings, the Brewer pitcher was taking practice throws, and one got away from the catcher and rolled over to the stands. The fans leaned over to try to pick up the ball, but Big Frank, who was in the on-deck circle, picked up the ball and handed it to them. It wasn't a huge thing, but to a kid like me who happened to see it, it made me think of Frank Thomas as a really cool guy. I could just imagine how special it would be if I had been sitting there and this superstar ballplayer handed me the ball himself.

Even though he was injured for most of the year, I was so glad that Thomas got to be part of the 2005 World Series Champion White Sox, in what turned out to be his last year with the team. Although he didn't play in the World Series, he got to be there, and he was able to get a ring out of it. It wasn't a perfect storybook ending, but as Chicago baseball goes, it's better than most of our great players get.

Although Greg Maddux started his career with the Cubs, by the time I became a baseball fan he had already signed with the Braves. I didn't get to see him as a Cub until he rejoined the team late in his career. My best memories of Maddux are the times he spent paired with Tom Glavine atop the Braves' rotation. While I hated those Braves (because they were so good), I look back on them fondly now. They truly were a great team, and they have my eternal respect.

There aren't many managers who have truly captured my imagination, so there isn't a lot I can say about Cox, LaRussa and Torre. All have their share of critics (what manager doesn't?), but they all had success over long periods of time, so hey, they must've been doing something right.

Bobby Cox has my respect, because he was the main architect of that outstanding Braves team that was the NL's Team of the 1990's. While he's remembered by many for his teams' underachievements, he deserves credit for getting them into the position where those expectations could even exist. He set a good tone for the organization, and the Brave brand has much more cachet today than it did in the days of old.

Joe Torre was just a pretty-good manager before he found his niche as skipper of the Yankees. His record outside of New York makes good resume-padding, but by itself it doesn't deserve enshrinement. However, as we all know, the Yankee managerial post isn't an easy one, and he handled it with aplomb for 12 years. Sometimes success is just about being the right guy at the right time, and Joe Torre was certainly that for New York. There has been some debate about whether Torre deserves enshrinement as a player as well, since he had a darn good playing career. I doubt the distinction is an important one at this point, because now that he's in, he's got his lifetime achievement award.

I'll admit to hating LaRussa a bit, mainly due to his association with the Team That Destroyed Baseball, AKA the 2011 St. Louis Cardinals. I don't want to make this post into a personal pity party, but my life as a baseball fan has pretty much all been downhill since David Freese became a St. Louis legend. Tony LaRussa, you deserve the Hall, but I don't want to think about you.

So congratulations all around! The first Major League home runs of all our inductees-to-be have been added to the master list.