Alex's Autographs

Getting the mail just got a lot more fun...

2015 ... and 2014 ... in Review

As we wind down 2016, I think it is time I provide my annual review. Retroactively. Of 2014 and 2015.

Over these past three years, I have significantly pared down my involvement in the hobby — not because I fell out of love with it, but because I was not allowed to participate with gusto due to time constraints and other obligations. I went back to school. My job took precedence. Life happened.

As a result, Alex’s Autographs suffered. Updates became sparse as successes merely trickled in. Sometimes months would pass between updates. I stopped adding to my sister site, Free Autographs, completely, and now it is no more.

But I should not have expected anything more than a trickle. In 2014, I mailed only 90 requests, 22 of which came back successfully with four failures. Including successes from requests mailed in years past, I brought in 48 returns.

Though the year’s success rate was just 24 percent, it is hard to deny some of the returns were excellent.

I received former All-Star and batting champ Freddy Sanchez after 1,889 days — my longest wait of the year. Juan Pierre, the two-time hits and three-time stolen base king, signed my card and Philip Humber, who tossed a perfect game for the White Sox in 2012, also inked my cardboard.

How about those long waits. Pierre took 395 days and Humber, 539. Jim McNamara waited 413 days to sign for me, while Vincent Degifico was nearly a two-year turnaround at 663 days. Van Snider was 728. Joining the many-year club were Rob Nelson at 1,051 days and Tom Knauss at 1,561.

Some players signed quickly, though. Paul Johnson, Ryan Keedy and Mike Nickeas came in after a week, while Chris Johnson, Tommy Johnson and Chris Jones arrived in nine days.

I did not receive many football successes in 2014 — just four: Greg Kragen (210 days), David Treadwell (303 days), Martin Mayhew (463 days) and Randy Hughes (712 days).

My Successes of the Month were as follows:

December: No successes
November: Martin Mayhew
October: No successes
September: Will Smith
August: Freddy Sanchez
July: Juan Pierre
June: Luis Valbuena
May: David Treadwell
April: Ross Ohlendorf
March: Adrian Burnside
February: Greg Kragen
January: Phil Humber

2015 was a bit better. I mailed 208 requests and had 68 successes, with 22 failures. Including returns that arrived in 2016, 2015’s success rate is 30 percent. Some of my favorite successes include former All-Stars Yovani Gallardo, C.C. Sabathia, Jeff Reardon and Jerry Reuss.

As with 2014, long and short waits were plentiful. My longest baseball waits were Shawn Wills (1,633 days), Jacob Shumate (1,617 days), Mike Kelly (1,615 days), Jack McDowell (1,005 days), Jericho Jones (623 days) and Eric Jaques (519 days). The shortest durations were eight days (John D’Acquisto and Dave Goltz) and nine days (Ramon Flores, Carlos Garcia, Lou Klimchock and Reardon).

There was also an uptick in football successes, with three notable long waits: Mike Wood (899 days), Al Richardson (1,042 days) and Dennis Pitta (1,180 days). Brock Osweiler, at 16 days, was my shortest wait.

Here are my respective Successes of the Month:

December: Brandon Gibson
November: Toby Gerhart
October: Yovani Gallardo
September: Jeff Reardon
August: Jerry Reuss
July: C.J. Cron
June: Jack McDowell
May: Nori Aoki
April: Danny Duffy
March: Andrew Carignan
February: Drew Stubbs
January: C.C. Sabathia

In regards to the hobby, these were two largely disappointing years. Here’s hoping the future holds brighter days.

 

The Dark Horses: Tim Hudson

In baseball Hall of Fame discussion, there tends to be a few categories used to describe potential future Cooperstowners.

First, there's the shoo-ins, the guys who could retire tomorrow and be elected on the first or second ballot without a problem. Derek Jeter is one such player.

Then there's the maybes, guys who have been very good - but not great - for a long time, or guys who started off weak but have put together excellent second halves to their careers. These players have quite a bit of support among the fans, but have only a 50-50 chance of being elected to the Hall via the regular ballot, especially if they retired tomorrow. Carlos Beltran and Adrian Beltre fit the bill pretty nicely.

And after that, we have the potentials. These players have shown great Hall of Fame potential so far in their careers, but they haven't played long enough for us to be sure they'll be Hall of Famers when they retire. Mike Trout seems to be the example du jour. Felix Hernandez is another good one.

There's the no ways. Seasoned veterans who've been around forever, but might not even make the Hall of Fame ballot. I'm talking guys like catcher Tom Prince (remember him?) or, for a more contemporary example, pitcher Jamey Wright.

And finally, there are the dark horses. Players who, right now, aren't future Hall of Famers. And when they retire, they probably won't be future Hall of Famers, either. But, if the dominoes fall correctly, if the winning cards are dealt, if a lot goes right in their careers from here on out, then maybe -- just maybe -- they will have Hall of Fame-quality careers when they finally retire.

That's who I'm focusing on here.

My first case: San Francisco Giants pitcher Tim Hudson.

A lot went right for Hudson at the beginning of his career -- in his first five seasons, he averaged 16 wins a year, posted a .708 winning percentage, had a 3.26 ERA and showcased an excellent 137 ERA+.

After going 11-2 for the Oakland Athletics in his rookie season, 1999, he became one of the top young players in the game and finished fifth in American League Rookie of the Year balloting that year. Subsequently, he had two top-five finishes in AL Cy Young Award voting, was an All-Star in 2000 and even received some MVP support during those first few campaigns.

Pitching alongside Barry Zito and Mark Mulder, two other excellent hurlers for those well-rounded Oakland Athletics teams, Hudson was one of the best pitchers in the game through 2003. In that span, he had the best ERA+ (minimum 1000 IP), the second-best winning percentage (min. 100 decisions), the fifth-most victories (80) and the fifth-most strikeouts (796) in the American League. Perhaps most notably, his ERA was the second-best in all of Major League Baseball (and the best in the Junior Circuit).

But then things started to unravel.

What went wrong? Injuries, initially. After averaging 34 starts and 229 innings pitched a year from 2000 to 2003, Hudson averaged only 28 starts and 190 frames in 2004 and 2005.

And, he started to struggle. In 2006, his ERA+ dropped to 92 and his ERA jumped to 4.86.

After righting the ship in 2007, injuries set in again, and he started a combined total of only 29 games in 2008 and 2009.

All this happened at the worst time -- during his prime years (which traditionally run from ages 27 to 32). From 2004 to 2008 -- what should have been the best years of his career -- he devolved markedly and averaged only 13 victories and 115 strikeouts a season. His ERA in that span was an un-stupendous 3.73 and his ERA+ was 117 (still good, but quite a drop).

He rattled off three great years with Atlanta from 2010 to 2012, but struggled a bit during 2013, which was ended prematurely by a broken ankle he suffered in late July.

Other factors are working against him at this point, too. His postseason success is limited -- he's pitched in the playoffs six times, but never past the Division Series. He’s been unreliable in postseason action; sometimes he’s excellent – like in the 2001 ALDS, when he went 1-0 with a 0.93 ERA in two games. Other times, he’s atrocious – in the 2002 ALDS, he was 0-1 with a 6.23 ERA in two starts.

Age is not on his side: He's 38 years old and still fragile. And age makes people even fragile-er.

Despite his early success, he lacks accolades -- all told, he's been an All-Star only three times. Voters look at accolades like All-Star selections, Cy Young Awards and Gold Gloves as signs of greatness. And Hudson has that knock against him, too –though he was great, he wasn’t necessarily perceived that way. It’s tough to get a lot of press when you’re playing at the same time as Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Greg Maddux and Roger Clemens. It is hard to establish yourself as a top star when that role has already been taken by so many players.

With 205 career victories entering 2014, he doesn't have a lot of wins. Even with the advent of Sabermetrics, many -- if not most -- voters still look at career victories when considering Hall of Fame worthiness. Even with pitchers winning fewer and fewer games each season, hurlers will still have trouble gaining election with 220 or fewer career victories -- especially if they lack peripherals like a lot of accolades or a ton of strikeouts. Like Hudson.

He's never been much of a league leader, even during his best years. He led the league in wins once, win-loss percentage once, games started twice and shutouts twice.

So, what has to go right for Hudson? Well, he needs more victories. Based on what he's already done, 240-250 should be enough to earn him considerable Hall of Fame support. That's about 13 wins a year over the next three years, including 2014. So he has to stay healthy -- not an easy job for an injury-prone guy who'll be 40 at that point.

2,500 strikeouts would also be nice. He's barely at 1,900 right now, so that's a tall order. He needs statistical milestones, since he lacks accolades.

Speaking of which, another All-Star selection certainly wouldn't hurt.

And some real postseason success would be helpful.

If his win total remains relatively low, He will need to keep that career winning percentage -- which was .649 entering 2014 -- elevated.

Hudson has his work cut out for him. 240 wins is a possibility, but for him to collect 600 more strikeouts -- or 150 a year until he is 41 -- seems unlikely. He'll break down by then.

A chance at postseason success seems plausible, though, since he's pitching for a team that has won two World Series since 2010. He’s signed with the Giants for two years, so he has a couple chances to bolster his playoff resume while in San Fran.

Hudson also has the benefit of pitching in the 21st century, the WAR era. More and more voters are looking at Wins Above Replacement, and Sabermetrics in general, when gauging a player's Hall worthiness, and Hudson's 57.3 WAR (which includes a scant boost from his offensive contributions) is quite good – it’s the same amount that Hall of Famer Whitey Ford has. If he can break 60 WAR -- a lot to ask, as he has declined in that department each year since 2010 -- his Hall of Fame argument will get a major boost.

Hudson is also pitching during a time when voters might be coming around to pitchers who don't meet the historical Hall of Fame statistical markers -- 300 wins, 3,000 strikeouts -- which means, even with seemingly depressed career statistics, they may give his career -- and modern careers like his -- more credence. Maybe. The voters are a funny bunch that way. It’s really a matter of we’ll see what happens.

As all the superstars from the 1990s and 2000s have withered away and retired, Hudson has taken the reins as the “best of his generation,” in terms of overall career contribution. He currently leads all active pitchers in career wins, shutouts and pitching WAR, and is second among hurlers in winning percentage, innings pitched and games started.

Tim Hudson's career has taken an interesting course -- he started out on what seemed like a Hall of Fame path, faltered, rebounded, faltered, rebounded, faltered and is on the rebound again. Without all his injuries and mid-career struggles, he may have the requisite 240-250 wins now and today people would be asking when he'd be getting into the Hall of Fame, not if.

But that's not the case. Rather, Hudson is still building his Hall of Fame argument – he’s doesn’t have one yet, and with one more bad season, or one more terrible injury, he may never have it.

He's a dark horse.

Post April 14, 2014.

2013 in Review (and 2012, too)

Well, well, well, once again I procrastinated too long on writing a “Year in Review” article, so the autographing campaign of 2012 never got its time in the sun. And it will to have to wait a little longer, since I’m going to review 2013 first.

Last year, I mailed out 373 letters, which is exactly 100 less than I mailed in 2012, but still my second-highest send-out total of the past five years. To date, I’ve had success with 123 of those requests, which puts me at a 32% success rate – my worst rate since I started keeping track in 2003. And, unfortunately, 38 of those requests came back as failures.  On the bright side, I received a total of 147 successes in 2013, including returns from requests I sent before the year began.

Once again, I focused on sending to retired minor leaguers, current major and minor leaguers and former big leaguers. I sent a handful of football requests as well, but not too many. Though I used to send quite a bit, my focus was primarily on baseball this past year.

Let’s talk about long waits. It’s always a blast to see an envelope in my mailbox that I know must be from an old request, and I had a few of those arrive this past year. In fact, Brandon Wood took 1,708 days to get back to me, while Reynaldo Navarro took 919 days, Jason Bourgeois took 669 days, Mike Montgomery took 630 days, Andrew Miller took 475 days, Eric Byrnes took 436 days, Ted Wood took 397 days and Lamar Johnson took 393 days. But Jeremy Giambi and Kevin Campbell have them all beat. Giambi took 2,423 days to return – nearly seven years – and Campbell took 2,595 days to respond. That’s over seven years, and a new record for my longest wait.  

Those are just the baseball players. My five longest football waits were Lee Williams (1,073 days), Stanley Morgan (441 days), Alex Boone (262 days), DeMarcus Ware (255 days) and Luke Stocker (240 days).

Not everyone took a long time to get back to me, though. Some were super quick, like Dan Grunhard, Cole Hyson, Jim Mason, Kevin McGehee, Josh McKinley and Bob Skinner, who all took one week (7 days). The quickest baseball return belongs to Frank Seminara at 5 days.

Some football players were pretty hasty, too. Tom Skladany took only 5 days, while James Lofton returned my card in 8 days, Raymond Clayborn got back to me in 11 days, Kevin Mack responded in 13 days and Ricky Thompson took only 15 days.

I had some excellent scores in-person, as well, though I only went to two baseball games. My home team, the Rochester Red Wings, hosted Hall of Famers Rod Carew and Gaylord Perry for autograph signings, and I was lucky enough to score signatures of both of them.

Here are my best through the mail successes of 2013, by month:

December: Mike Montgomery
November: Stanley Morgan
October: Wilin Rosario
September: Garrett Richards
August: James Lofton
July: Ken Singleton
June: Charlie Manuel
May: Addison Reed
April: DeMarcus Ware
March: Ron Jaworski
February: Andy Benes
January: Jake Long

Now let’s look at 2012. As I mentioned above, I sent out a bunch more requests in 2012 than 2013 – 473, in fact – with about half (258) going to baseball players and approximately half (215) going to (mostly retired) football players.

Of the 473 requests I sent, I’ve had success with 170 of them – that’s a lot more than 2013, but still a success rate of only 35%. I also had 51 failures, which is a lot, but not the worst year I’ve had, percentage-wise. In 2010, I received 51 failures out of 311 requests sent – a 16.4% failure rate – which makes my 2012 failure rate of 10.8% seem pretty tiny.

In 2012, I sent out more football requests than I ever had in a single year and received some pretty nice returns, including Hall of Famers Steve Largent, Joe DeLamielleure, Ted Hendricks, Charlie Joiner and Harry Carson.

That’s not to say I didn’t have a bunch of excellent baseball successes. In fact, I received All-Stars Josh Hamilton, Lonnie Smith and Randy Wolf, All-Star in the making Kris Medlen, and some other pretty big names.

All-in-all, though the results could always be better, I can’t complain about how 2012 and 2013 turned out.

Posted January 8, 2014.

My Take on the 2014 Baseball Hall of Fame Election

National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum election season is upon us. Within a day, the newest enshrinees, as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America, will be announced and much excitement – and despair – abounds.

A year after not selecting a single player for the Hall of Fame – Craig Biggio was the highest vote-getter last go-around, appearing about 68% of the ballots (with 75% needed for induction) – Cooperstown looks set to induct at least two, three, or even five new players.

The ballot is loaded with big name newcomers and well-known holdovers alike, with former stars Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas headlining the list of first-timers and returnees Biggio, Jack Morris, Tim Raines – as well as a slew of big name PED and suspected PED users – making an appearance. Election of at least a handful of them seems inevitable.

According to the Hall of Fame Vote Tracker, Maddux and Glavine look like shoo-ins, if the 170 or so submitted ballots are any indication. Maddux could very well end up with 98% of the vote when it is tabulated. Glavine currently sits at 96% and though that number will likely drop, his election also seems imminent.

Then there is Frank Thomas. He is an anomaly. Though many sportswriters hesitate when voting for power hitters from the 1990s and 2000s, as evidenced by the current support – or lack thereof - for players like Bonds, Mike Piazza, Jeff Bagwell and so forth, Thomas has received votes on over 90% of reported ballots. He was an outspoken critic of PEDs when their use was rampant, which likely bolsters his case in the eyes of the anti-steroid crowd.  Yet, some have doubts as to whether he’ll maintain that high level of support, especially when the silent curmudgeons have their votes tallied. His election appears near certain as well, but it’s not guaranteed.

Maddux, Glavine, Thomas. That would make one heck of a Hall of Fame class, especially when added to the three managers* selected by the Veteran’s Committee late last year. And that’s most likely going to be the class elected.

*Tony LaRussa, Joe Torre and Bobby Cox

Some dark-horse candidates remain in the running, though. Biggio is right on the fringe, appearing on just over 75% of the reported ballots. He certainly has a case for the Hall, but was never a dominant player in the league – and usually not even on his own team (here’s looking at you, Bagwell). Piazza, on nearly 70% of the ballots, could possibly make the jump to 75%, though it seems unlikely.

Maddux, Glavine and Thomas. And Biggio? And Piazza?? Now that would be exciting.

But despair remains for many reasons.

The ballot is too packed. There are too many great players. There is a chunk of players, namely the PED and suspect-PED users, clogging the works. Players who should be getting votes aren’t and players who are getting votes shouldn’t be. Voters are selecting a small handful of players despite the huge number of qualified names. The complaints vary depending on whom you ask.

And it’s true. The ballot is packed. It contains 16 players I would definitely vote for, with a few more I would strongly consider. And there are too many great players. It’s not filled with a couple greats and a bunch of very good compilers as in past years. There is a slew of veritable MVPS, Cy Young Award winners and true All-Stars on the list. It’s a ballot of stars and superstars.

One  of the reasons why the ballot is so large is because of the glut of ‘roiders and those suspected of use that populate it, and it’s a big list: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell.

There is a contingent of voters who don’t care about steroid use, or who think the users would have been just as good without them as with that vote for those players. But an even larger contingent exists that vehemently opposes anyone who may have even looked at steroids during their playing days.

In any other era, those players – with the numbers they put up – would have been in the Hall of Fame within one or two elections. They may be considered all-time greats today. But with the specter of steroids looming, they float in a sort of limbo that will likely see most of them go unelected via regular ballot. One or two may drop off the ballot altogether. The rest will remain on the ticket, taking up space and taking away potential votes from other deserving candidates. Unless, of course, there is a drastic change in the attitude toward steroids among voters, which I don’t foresee occurring any time soon.

And how about players receiving undue support? Jack Morris, though a very good pitcher  during his day, is the recipient of much of it. One voter went with Morris and didn’t even vote for Maddux. Another chose Morris and Lee Smith ahead of Thomas, Biggio, Raines – all the non-pitchers, in fact. Many of the stingiest voters, some of whom have only three or four players on their ballots, are including Morris amongst their chosen few.

The “chosen few” mentality has also drawn the ire of many fans. How could a writer really only choose three or four players among the huge list of potential, deserving electees? Yet it has been done, multiple times. I will not be surprised if at least one blank ballot is submitted.

Now, if I had a vote, I would not be one of the thrifty electors. In fact, I would use all ten choices given to me and wish I had more. Like I said, there are 16 player I would like to vote for.

First, I’ll go over the players who I believe are deserving of eventual election, but would not appear on my ballot because of a lack of space.

Jeff Kent – Kent was one of the greatest offensive second basemen of all-time, but he developed late and gave less than a decade of Hall of Fame-worthy production. When you add in the work he put in outside of his greatest years, you have a Hall of Famer, but one that doesn’t stack up alongside those I would vote for. He’ll have to wait ‘til next year.

 Fred McGriff ­­– McGriff was a compiler*, but he didn’t compile long enough to put up numbers to get him on my ballot this time around. Had he been just a bit more effective his first two or his last two seasons (when he struggled), he would have a stronger case. He too must wait.

*’Compiler’ means they didn’t have enormous peaks; rather they steadily compiled their way to Hall of Fame careers.

Mark McGwire – McGwire was one of the biggest names in baseball in the 1990s and 2000s and finished with 583 home runs and 1,414 RBI. Unfortunately, he was a one-dimensional player (power was his one dimension) and the ballot is stacked with folks who did more than one thing very well.

Mike Mussina – “Moose” put up Hall of Fame numbers, but he, too, was a compiler who didn’t compile enough to make my ballot. He didn’t reach any major milestones (300 wins or 3,000 strikeouts, though he was close to both) and he wasn’t a superstar during his day, with only a handful of All-Star selections and relatively limited Cy Young Award support.

Curt Schilling – Schilling is a victim of the loaded ballot. He was a strikeout artist (3,116 for his career) and a postseason master – he had 11 wins and a tiny 2.23 ERA in 19 playoff starts – but just wasn’t great enough long enough to make the ballot this time. He was a very blasé pitcher for nearly the first decade of his career.

Lee Smith ­– I’ve gone back and forth on Smith. He doesn’t matchup against modern closers like Mariano Rivera or Trevor Hoffman, but that’s because the closers’ role has change so dramatically since he played. He pitched during a transitionary phase, when closers were going from those two or three-inning hurlers to the one-inning specialists that they are now. He was among the best of that batch of closers.

Sammy Sosa – Like McGwire, Sosa was a top star during his day. Unfortunately, he was also a one-dimensional power hitter, prone to a bunch of strikeouts. He did show speed earlier in his career, but that was largely before he became a star player.

Larry Walker – He is mostly a product of the offense-friendly Coors Field, where he played for ten of his 17 seasons. He was an excellent hitter with great power, but a lot of that is attributable to where he played. Plus, his career totals are a tad lacking.

Missing from the above list is a handful of players who have received considerable support from voters and fans in the past, but who I do not currently support for the Hall. I’ve gone back and forth on a lot of them and am only firmly against the election of one. Those players include the following.

Edgar Martinez – It’s hard to deny Martinez’s offensive prowess, but I’m not too keen on designated hitters being elected to the Hall of Fame, though my opinion on that has fluctuated in the past.

Don Mattingly - Mattingly was a consistently solid ballplayer, but he doesn’t fit the standard model of first basemen – namely, he didn’t hit for a ton of power. I’ve supported him for the Hall of Fame in the past, but he is one of the weaker candidates I’ve lent my support to.

Jack Morris ­­­– Morris is the only member of this group that I am firmly against election to the Hall of Fame. He lacks the statistical qualifications – both traditional and Sabermetric – and his postseason heroics are not unique, nor are they Hall of Fame worthy. The legend of Morris is larger than the man himself and I guarantee that if he is elected, he will be viewed as a mistake within a few years of his induction.

Alan Trammell – Trammell was a very consistent ballplayer, though I’m not sure I ‘get’ the support he has garnered. Perhaps he is a product of Sabermetrics – WAR is kind to him – or maybe I’m just not seeing something.

Now here is my hypothetical ballot – and it was tough to construct. I consider both traditional and Sabermetric viewpoints.

Jeff Bagwell – Bagwell was one of the top first basemen in the major leagues in the 1990s and early 2000s, finishing with a .297 batting average, .408 on-base percentage and a .540 slugging percentage. He hit 449 home runs with 1,529 RBI and 1,517 runs scored. Those numbers alone are enough to make him a Hall of Famer, but he tacks on 202 career stolen bases, over 1,400 walks and nearly 80 WAR per Baseball-Reference.com. He won an MVP, a Rookie of the Year Award, a Gold Glove and was an All-Star multiple times.

Craig Biggio – Longevity is a sign of greatness and a lot of hits is usually a good indication of longevity. Biggio accrued over 3,000 career hits to go along with over 1,800 runs scored, more than 400 stolen bases and 668 doubles, which ranks 5th all-time and is the most among right-handed batters. He was durable, playing in more than 160 games five times and he even possessed some pop, whacking nearly 300 home runs. Add to that his six All-Star selections and four Gold Gloves and you have yourself a Hall of Famer.

Barry Bonds – I’m not too keen on the reactionary anti-steroid sentiment that most baseball writers possess. In my view, steroids and their use need to be viewed as a condition of the time and the players who worked during that time should not be too harshly penalized for them.* It’s hard to deny Bonds was a great player and it’s also a challenge to refute the claim that he would have been an excellent player without steroids. Going with the information and statistics I have – not hypotheticals – I see a seven-time MVP with 762 home runs, close to a zillion All-Star selections and, in my view, a pretty strong Hall of Fame case.

*That is in regards to players who used them during the Steroid Era, approximately 1990-2005. Those who get busted nowadays, even after all the rules and testing have been implemented and the fallout been witnessed, deserve  the ire they draw.

Roger Clemens – With 354 career wins, 4,672 strikeouts and 118 complete games, Clemens would be an immortal if he pitched in any other era. But not this one. He earned about 37% of the vote last year because of his alleged steroid use and will likely continue to struggle earning support. That said, I cannot deny this seven-time Cy Young Award winner who had 139.4 WAR, nearly a dozen All-Star selections, seven ERA titles and five strikeout titles my support. He was to pitching what Barry Bonds was to offense – indomitable.

Tom Glavine – Ah, an uncontroversial pick.* Glavine, who won 305 games in his career, led the league in victories five times. He was a workhorse who paced the loop in games started six times and who tossed at least 225 innings eight times. He pitched alongside Maddux and John Smoltz during his tenure with the Braves and though often overshadowed by those two, he certainly held his own among them. I wouldn’t say he was dominant – rather, he was excellent at his craft and a steady compiler – but he certainly deserves a vote.

*Or is it? He had a 3.54 ERA! And he didn’t even strike out 3,000 batters! And look at all those home runs (356) he gave up!

Greg Maddux – It’s not often someone with an argument for Greatest of All-Time appears on the ballot, but when that person does, you better vote for him. And Maddux certainly earns my nod. He is the only one on this list who will be considered a true legend, even more so than Bonds. We all know the basics of Maddux’s career – 355 wins, 3,371 strikeouts – but what impresses me the most is this: From 1992 to 1998, he posted a 2.15 ERA while averaging 239 innings pitched and 18 wins per season. Those numbers would make Walter Johnson blush!

Rafael Palmeiro – He gets my vote largely to keep him on the ballot. I do not want a player with over 3,000 hits and more than 500 home runs to drop off, even if said player lied to Congress about steroid use. Palmeiro was a steady compiler in the Eddie Murray mold, as he hit 569 home runs without ever blasting 50 in a season. Though he was never a superstar (he was an All-Star only four times), he averaged 121 RBI per season from 1995 to 2003, with a total of at least 104 in each campaign.

Mike Piazza – Piazza was the greatest offensive catcher of all-time. He hit 427 home runs – 396 as a catcher (the most for that position)  – to go along with a .308 batting average and 2,127 hits. He was a 12-time All-Star who won 10 Silver Sluggers, a Rookie of the Year honor and the National League MVP in 1996. He had the best offensive WAR in 1995 and 1997 and, despite having a reputation as a poor catcher, once led league backstops in fielding percentage.

Tim Raines – I like speedsters. I like base stealers. And, during his prime, Raines was one of the speediest and base-stealiest ballplayers in the game. He swiped 808 bags in his career – which is fifth-best all-time – and led the league in steals four straight years, from 1981 to 1984. He wasn’t a Vince Coleman-esque, one-dimensional player, however. He rarely struck out, drew a bunch of walks and even had some pop, walloping as many as 18 home runs in a season. Not to mention, he was an All-Star seven times.
 
Frank Thomas – Thomas’ career can be split into two parts – pre-2001 Frank Thomas and Frank Thomas of 2001 and after. Before 2001, he had the makings of a legend, averaging 31 home runs and 108 RBI per season while hitting .321 with a 169 OPS+. He was one of the biggest superstars in the game, a feared slugger and still in the prime of his career. From 2001 onwards, he mostly trudged through the sport, beset by injuries and an overall decline in production. That said, the final product – a .301 average, 521 home runs and 1,704 RBI, are enough to earn a vote.

There are some other players on the ballot – all first-timers – that have no shot at election but deserve an honorable mention anyway. Moises Alou, Luis Gonzalez and Richie Sexson were reliable power hitters, while Ray Durham managed over 2,000 hits and Kenny Rogers won over 200 games with undeniably steady careers.

However the voting turns out, the 2014 Hall of Fame election will give sports fans a lot to talk about. There will be elation from some sectors and certainly a bunch of complaints from others, as some players  – but perhaps not enough – are selected for the highest honor in all of baseball.  It’ll keep fans busy – well, until next year, at least. 

Posted January 8, 2014.

2011 Year in Review

It’s been a long time coming. Over a year in fact. Yup, here is my year in review—for 2011.

I never wrote this last year because 2011, well, really sucked. I sent out only 237 requests—212 to baseball players and 25 to football players—and I received only 93 in return. Well, 93 of the 237 requests I sent in 2011—overall, I had 109 successes that year, but that's including stuff that I sent in 2010 and before.

In fact, I had a lot of stuff come back that took many weeks to return to my mailbox. For example, Russ Nixon took 2,111 days—almost six years, a new record for me—to return one index card and 2,017 days to return another. Super-sub Tony Graffanino’s autograph finally came back to me after 1,886 days—his request was sent when he was still with the Royals in 2006 (he’s been out of Major League Baseball since 2009).

Kenny Felder waited 1,492 days to send a couple cards back to me and pitcher Mike MacDougal was a 1,320-day wait. The less-famous Giambi brother, Jeremy, took 875 days to respond and Ricky Horton, who spent a couple good years in the big leagues, also spent a couple good years holding onto my card before sending it back, waiting 676 days.

Don Prybylinski, who never made the major leagues, held onto my cards for 668 days and Brandon Reed spent a year slowly scrawling his signature onto the piece of cardboard I sent him, as his request had a 373 day turnaround. Football player Austin Collie took his time, too, sending my card back after 372 days.

A good chunk of those long waits were from players who never made the major leagues—Felder, Prybylinski, Reed—and I have to wonder what took them so long. I’m not faulting them in the slightest for taking a while to sign—I’m grateful whenever anyone autographs a card or two for me—but I’m just curious…

These guys never made the big leagues, so they probably aren’t receiving many autograph requests. Did their requests get lost in the mail and take a long time to get to them? Did the letters arrive and get lost in the shuffle of their kitchens, bedrooms or offices? Did the players move and did the letters get lost in the shuffle that way? We may never know.

As you’ll note, however, there was only one football player on the above list of really long returns. That’s largely because, as of the end of 2011, I hadn’t sent to many football players in recent years. My five longest football waits for 2011, including Collie above, were Jordy Nelson (157 days), Toby Gerhart (92 days), Chip Lohmiller (46 days) and Fred Cook (40 days).

There were quite a few super-quick turnarounds in 2011, as well. Sean Mulligan, Terry Gilmore, Kevin Sheredy and Billy Buckner (the pitcher, not the very good first baseman whose entire career’s work was marred by one ball rolling through his legs) took only eight days to get back to me, along with the less-famous Buhner brother, Shawn and, most notably, Hall of Fame second baseman Bobby Doerr.

Jon McMullen, Kevin Estrada and Tom Nuneviller—a handful of career minor leaguers—took only seven days to return my cards, while John Farrell and Scott May were part of the one-week club as well.

Some guys were even quicker in getting back to me, though. Brad Hassinger, who spent five thoroughly excellent years in the minors in the 1980s and 1990s, took only six days to get back to me, while former Orioles farmhand Ryan O’Shea needed only five days, which was my quickest turnaround time in 2011.

Note the dearth of football players on the 2011 quick-turnaround-time list. As previously mentioned, this is largely due to the fact that I didn’t send many football requests in 2011. My five quickest football returns that year were Steve Tasker (10 days), Darryl Williams (13 days), Neil O’Donnell (15 days), Steve Grogan (16 days) and Charlie Joiner (16 days).

With only 237 requests sent, 2011 was my least active year since I first got into autograph collecting in 2003—that year, I had only 50 recorded requests (though I sent a few more than that)—and the first full year I sent out less than 300 requests. Percentage-wise, however, 2011 was my best year since 2009.

Successfully receiving back 39% of the requests I sent in 2011—it was a 37% success rate for baseball, a 56% success rate for football—I almost hit the magical 40% mark, which I could not accomplish in 2010 (I had a 36% success rate that year).

One of my big problems in 2011, as it was in 2010, come to think of it, was the failures. 29 of the 237 requests I sent that year, or 12.2%, returned without an autograph inside. That doesn’t sniff my 2010 failure rate of 16.4%, but it’s nowhere near my 4.2% mark for 2007, either. During one stretch, in May and June 2011, I received six failures in a row, before having a success.

My best successes of 2011, by month:

January: Bobby Doerr
February: Russ Nixon
March: Rob Richie
April: Jim Corsi
May: Justin Masterson
June: Jordan Zimmermann
July: Michael Stutes
August: Steve Tasker
September: Charlie Joiner
October: Todd Jones
November: Jeremy Giambi
December:  Toby Gerhart

Some other brief notes:

·         On August 22, 2011, I sent out my 3,000th recorded request.

·         My other Websites, Free Autographs and Minor League Addresses Plus, continued to perform well.

That’s that for 2011. I’ll have my review of 2012 up soon—I promise.

Posted 1/17/13. 

The Crazy Story of Dorian Daughtry

Arguments and guns normally do not go well together. At the very best, the gun wielding individual does not fire the weapon, nobody gets hurt and everyone goes home happy. At the very worst, someone dies.

And that’s what happened in the early hours of that July 22, 1990 morning, when, while on a Brooklyn street after a night of allegedly imbibing and becoming intoxicated, Dorian Daughtry began shooting wildly at a man with whom he had once had an intense argument.

Bullets sprayed here and there. People on the street ducked and ran and jumped, looking to escape the gun-wielding lunatic.

After 10 or 12 shots, his clip ran out. The shooting, which began at 12:45 AM, was over. It appeared no one was hurt.

But appearances are deceiving. Veronica Corales, sleeping in her parents’ car after a long day of fun at Great Adventure amusement park in Jackson, New Jersey, absorbed one of those little missiles, the back of her head bleeding from the wound. Her mother and grandmother, aware of what had happened, were screaming hysterically.

Local residents became vigilantes. They attacked the shooter, leaping on him, beating him, throwing bottles at him. His car was demolished, with all things breakable broken. Windows were shattered, glass littered the street.

And yet the perpetrator got away.

The nine-year-old did not die instantly. Rather, she remained strong, with doctors at one point saying she had a 50-50 chance of survival.

As she lay in a Brookdale Hospital bed, her life quickly draining away, Daughtry returned to the crime scene with his sister hours later, perhaps to retrieve his now-destroyed vehicle. Men quickly pointed him out to the police, citing him as the shooter.

He was arrested on charges of attempted murder and first-degree assault. The small child’s condition continued to worsen and, a short while later, she succumbed to her injury.

***

Daughtry never intended to kill an innocent little girl on that midsummer day. In fact, three years ago he most certainly never would have envisioned himself in this situation to begin with.

Three years ago, the 22-year-old man was playing minor league baseball, trying to build his resume into a major league career.

The then-19-year-old, taken by the Seattle Mariners as the first pick in the 19th round of the 1987 draft, exhibited good speed in his first professional season, stealing six bases in 41 games for Seattle’s Single-A Bellingham squad.

Unfortunately, his quickness was not accompanied by much else. Nicknamed “Double-D,” he spent three seasons on the farm, never climbing past A-ball. His batting average never exceeded .236, his on-base percentage never surpassed .266 and his slugging percentage never topped .268. Each year, he had more strikeouts than hits.

Like many ballplayers before him and since, Daughtry could not cut it at the professional level. He starred at Miami-Dade College and Kingsborough Community College, but those in the stages ahead of him were just a bit better. The Mariners released him following the 1989 season, in part due to a bad knee and in part because he could not perform adequately on the field.

And so, he was out of baseball—and now in jail.

Perhaps he was a good guy-turned-bad. Remembered as a straight-arrow trying to break free from the shackles of ghetto life in his earlier days, Daughtry was either going to become a professional baseball player or, if that did not work out, he was going to attend the police academy, following in his sister’s footsteps.

However, the arrow wasn’t straight for long. While playing professional baseball, the rapscallion frequently broke curfew, argued with teammates and brought women into his hotel room, which was against team policy.

At the time of the incident, he was working at a state facility for the mentally retarded, deciding whether to take the tests required to enter the police academy, or to give baseball one more shot—former roommate Ken Griffey, Jr. had arranged tryouts with the Cincinnati Reds for him.

None of that would happen now. Prosecutors were seeking a charge of second-degree murder against the man who once dreamt of fighting those he now sat amongst in that dirty jail, facing bail of $100,000 bond or $50,000 cash. He was also hit with charges of assault and possession of a deadly weapon.

But, according to his attorney, Bruce McIntyre, the story was not quite so cut-and-dry. “[He] did not intend to murder anybody,” the lawyer claimed. Police said Daughtry fired seven shots, but at least 14 shell casings were found, leading McIntyre to believe, “someone else must have been shooting out there.” Another defense attorney argued at his trial: “My client did not have a gun…he did not fire a gun.”

Despite the defense’s claims, Daughtry was convicted of manslaughter and reckless endangerment, avoiding a longer jail sentence by being acquitted of murder. He was sentenced to 8 1/3 to 25 years in prison with the possibility of parole and was sent to Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Ossining, New York.

To the despair of the Corales family, however, Daughtry caught a break when in April 1996, his conviction was overturned on technicalities—but his luck didn’t last long. By the next year, an appellate court heard an appeal and reinstated the sentence. Daughtry himself then appealed that decision, ultimately losing and ending up back where he least wanted to be.

In 2005, he was paroled and has since lived a quiet life. Following his release from prison, he attended Stony Brook University, earning multiple Master’s degrees. He is now living a fairly average life—with a past he would like to forget.

Sources:

"Alabama." USA Today 9 July 1991. Print.

The Associated Press. "Bail Set In Killing Of B'klyn Girl." Newsday [Long Island] 30 Aug. 1990: 19. Print.

The Associated Press. "Former Mariner Farmhand Gets Murder Charge." The Seattle Times 23 July 1990. Print.

Freifeld, Karen, and Peg Tyre. "Suspect's Big Dreams Are Ended." Newsday [Long Island] 23 July 1990. Print.

Frost, Edward. "Ex-Ballplayer Sentenced in Girl's Death." Daily News [Kingsport] 10 July 1991: 5. Print.

Hedges, Chris. "Wild Shooting On Street Hits Girl, 9, in Car." The New York Times 23 July 1990. Print.

Hurtado, Patricia. "Let Me Testify, Says B'klyn Slay Suspect." Newsday [Long Island] 26 July 1990: 16. Print.

"Paralyzed Drag Racer Gwynn Views Videotape of Crash." The Vindicator [Youngstown] 25 July 1990: 22. Print.

Perez-Rivas, Manuel. "Jurors Ponder Slaying of Girl." Newsday [Long Island] 11 June 1991: 28. Print.

Rodman, Bob. "Ems Coach Catches All-Star Express." Eugene Register-Guard 12 July 1991: 3B. Print.

"Stray Bullet Injures Napping Girl." The Spokesman-Review [Spokane] 23 July 1990: A4. Print.

"Stray Bullet Kills Girl." Toledo Blade 25 July 1990: 3. Print.

Sullivan, C.J. Wild Tales from the Police Blotter. Globe Pequot, 2008. Print.

"Where Are They Now?" Hudson Link for Higher Education in Prison. HudsonLink.org. Web. 17 Feb. 2012. <http://www.hudsonlink.org/joomla/index.php?option=com_content>.

Originally written 2/15/12. Posted here on 1/13/13. I originally posted this on one of the multiple blogs that I had great aspirations for, made two posts, then got bored or decided it took too long to keep up with and never updated again. That blog can be seen here: Sad 'N' Crazy Baseball.


Dusty Baker: Did Reds’ Manager Punch Ticket to Cooperstown with 1,500th Win?

For a long time, I never really thought of Dusty Baker as a Hall of Fame manager—or, for that matter, as having any Hall of Fame argument at all.

Really, he never quite had the feel of a Hall of Fame skipper. Just as during his playing days when he was solid, he has been similarly solid as a manager.

But “solid” doesn’t cut it. Not when we’re talking about the Hall of Fame.

Yet, the numbers are undeniable. Upon winning his 1,500th game on May 9, he joined an elite fraternityonly 19 other managers ever have earned that many victories.

Let’s break those helmsmen down. 12 of them are already in Cooperstown. Three are recently retired and will be heading to the Hall when they become eligible,* while three more are retired and not in the Hall yet—but they have their supporters.** The other, Jim Leyland, is still active and steadily making a case for a plaque of his own as we speak.

*Tony LaRussa (2,728 wins), Bobby Cox (2,504) and Joe Torre (2,326)
**Gene Mauch (1,902 wins), Lou Piniella (1,835) and Ralph Houk (1,619)

History indicates a manager with at least 1,500 wins has a great shot at earning induction into the Hallowed Halls—but is that singular victory milestone enough for Baker? Maybe, maybe not.

Despite compiling all those regular season victories, he doesn’t have very many from when it counts the most—the postseason. In his nearly two decades of managing in the majors, Baker has never led a team to a World Series victory and he has led only one team to the Fall Classic at all.

Sure, he has managed six teams to 90 or more victories—and one to over 100 wins—but he also has eight losing campaigns to his name. Though he has four first place finishes to brag about, there are also also four fourth place finishes on his record that tarnish his legacy.

So maybe he shouldn’t be planning his “Hall of Fame induction party” just yet—to say that Baker “punched his ticket” to Cooperstown upon winning his 1,500th game may be a bit premature. As it stands, he is in that borderline grey area—on the edge, but perhaps not quite worthy of enshrinement.

But still, he may get the call to the Hall someday. Most 1,500 game winners have.

Posted in Mid-May, 2012.

Where are They Now? Looking Back at some Past Successes—and Where the Players are Today

Here's a look back at some previous through the mail returns and what those players are up to today.

David Aardsma

Request sent: May 16, 2005
Where he was then: Norwich Navigators, San Francisco Giants’ Double-A team
Success received: May 25, 2005
Where he was then: Norwich Navigators
Where he is now: New York Yankees’ 60-day disabled list

A lot has happened to Aardsma since I received his autograph back in 2005. The former first-round draft pick has bounced around the majors, playing for the Chicago Cubs, Chicago White Sox, Boston Red Sox and Seattle Mariners. In 2009, he saved 38 games and posted a 2.52 ERA and the following year, he saved 31 games. He missed all of 2011 to injury and Tommy John surgery.

Mitch Abeita

Request sent: July 28, 2010
Where he was then: Tampa Yankees, New York Yankees’ Single-A team
Success received: August 12, 2010
Where he was then: Tampa Yankees
Where he is now: Released

A catcher, Abeita had an up-and-down minor league career, hitting as high as .273, but as low as the .220s. Old for the level he was playing at last year—25 years old in Single-A— he struggled at the dish, hitting only .221. The former Florida State League All-Star was released by the Yankees in early April 2012.

Reggie Abercrombie

Request sent: August 16, 2006
Where he was then: Florida Marlins
success received: October 7, 2006
Where he was then: Florida Marlins
Where he is now: Pericos de Puebla, in the Mexican League

2006 was Abercrombie’s only full season at the major league level and despite playing 111 games, it was a struggle for him—he batted only .212. He returned to the Marlins for a 35 game stint in 2007 and performed even worse. Though he hit .309 in 34 games for the Houston Astros in 2008, Abercrombie has not played in the majors since then, instead bouncing around the minors. He played indy ball in for a couple years before joining the Mexican League.

Jeremy Accardo

Request sent: April 17, 2007
Where he was then: Toronto Blue Jays
success received: December 1, 2007
Where he was then: Toronto Blue Jays
Where he is now: Columbus Clippers, Cleveland Indians’ Triple-A team

Despite not being an All-Star in 2007, Accardo certainly had an All-Star worthy season by saving 30 games and posting a 2.14 ERA. Unfortunately, he has not been able to duplicate that success in a career since wracked by injury and inconsistency. For the Blue Jays, he played in only 47 big league games between 2008 and 2010 before being granted free agency. He appeared in a handful of games for the Orioles in 2011, but struggled.

Travis Adair

Request sent: June 24, 2010
Where he was then: Hickory Crawdads, Texas Rangers’ Single-A team
Success received: July 6, 2010
Where he was then: Hickory Crawdads
Where he is now: Bowie Baysox, Baltimore Orioles’ Double-A team

Adair has played in three different organizations in his career, with the Rangers’ being his second (his first was the Atlanta Braves). Now in the Orioles’ system, Adair, who hit .284 last year, is looking to get his footing in the mid-minors. The son of Orioles’ pitching coach Rich Adair, he signed with the team as a free agent after being let go by the Rangers.

Jon Adkins

Request sent: September 9, 2005
Where he was then: Chicago White Sox
Success received: March 27, 2006
Where he was then: San Diego Padres
Where he is now: Scouting for the Boston Red Sox

Adkins pitched in five games for the White Sox in 2005 before being granted free agency and signing with the Padres. With the Fathers, he had the best year of his big league career in 2006, posting a 3.98 ERA in 55 games. He was traded with Ben Johnson to the New York Mets for Heath Bell and Royce Ring, having a cup of coffee with his new club in 2007. In 2008, he pitched for the Reds in his final big league season. He played in the minors through 2010.

Jonathan Albaladejo

Request sent: July 9, 2008
Where he was then: New York Yankees
Success received: November 14, 2008
Where he was then: New York Yankees
Where he is now: Reno Aces, Arizona Diamondbacks’ Triple-A team

After arriving in the big leagues with a bang in 2007 (by posting a 1.88 ERA in 14 games), Albaladejo cooled down and by 2009 he had a mediocre career ERA of 4.19. He never spent a full season with a big league club and in 2011, he had to travel overseas to find work—he pitched for the Yomiuri Giants in Japan, posting a 2.45 ERA in 46 games. He returned stateside for 2012.

Robbie Alcombrack

Request sent: July 9, 2008
Where he was then: Mahoning Valley Scrappers, Cleveland Indians’ Single-A team
Success received: July 16, 2008
Where he was then: Mahoning Valley Scrappers
Where he is now: Out of baseball

A catcher, Alcombrack never quite found his stroke at the professional level. He bounced around the Indians’ organization from 2006 to 2008, never batting above .248 in a season. He then played in the independent circuit from 2009 through 2011, hitting .309 with 10 home runs and 38 RBI for the 2010 Chico Outlaws. He hit only .216 the following year.

Brandon Allen

Request sent: July 28, 2010
Where he was then: Reno Aces, Arizona Diamondbacks’ Triple-A team
Success received: August 31, 2010
Where he was then: Reno Aces
Where he is now: Limbo

Allen has not had great success at the big league level, posting a career batting average of .205. He was traded from the Diamondbacks to the Athletics at the deadline in 2011 and, perhaps unsurpringly, did not perform well. In early April 2012, he was designated for assignment by the A's to make room for Daric Barton.

Jermaine Allensworth

Request sent: June 24, 2005
Where he was then: Joliet JackHammers, an independent league team
Success received: July 16, 2005
Where he was then: Joliet JackHammers
Where he is now: Retired

After a decent major league career that spanned from 1994 to 1999, Allensworth hit the independent circuit, playing in the Northern League from 2004 to 2008. He saw considerable success at that level, hitting .321 and .326 in 2004 and 2008, respectively. In 2006, he stole 26 bases. The former first round draft pick was a Pacific Coast League All-Star in 1996.  

Posted in Mid-April, 2012.

2010 in Review

Never before have I said, “last year was awful.” Never before have I wished the year could have been significantly better than it was. That is, never before—until now.

In terms of through the mail autographs, 2010 was a very poor year for me. As you might have witnessed, I often went a week or more without updating my website—that is because, to my chagrin, I was not receiving very many autograph successes in the mail.

In fact, in 2010 I mailed out 311 requests (more on that later) and received 168 things back—which doesn’t sound too shabby, until I point out that 51 of those things were failures. In total, I had 117 successes, which divided by 311 requests puts me at a 37.6% success rate. Unfortunately, that number is higher than it should be, because I am included autographs received in 2010 that were actually mailed in 2009 and before. If I count just the autographs I received from the requests I mailed in 2010, that puts me at 101 successes (and only 49 failures), which is a paltry 32.5% success rate. Last year, my unadjusted success rate (which includes successes from requests sent pre-2010) was 52% and my real success rate (which includes successes from requests mailed solely in 2010) was 42%. My 2010 unadjusted failure rate was 16.4% and my real failure rate was 15.8%.  

Still, I averaged one success about every three days, which I guess is not awful. More discouragingly, however, I received a failure about once a week, which is pretty bad. Like any autograph collector, I would prefer to have received exactly zero failures throughout the entire year.

As mentioned above, I mailed out 311 requests in 2010 (286 to baseball players and 25 to football players), which is my lowest total since at least 2003 (the first year I seriously got into autographs) and perhaps ever. My lack of requests initiated one of those vicious cycles that occurs from time to time—the reason I did not receive a lot of successes is because I did not mail enough stuff out, but the reason I did not mail a lot of stuff out is because I was not receiving very many successes (therefore eliminating my motivation to put stuff in the mail). I was especially put off by the low success rate—as stated, only 32.5%—which, at times, made me feel that I would be more than likely wasting my stamps.

Of the autographs I did receive, some took a long time to come back, some took a very short amount of time to return—and one even broke a personal record. Nine successes took one year (365 days) or longer to complete their trip back to my mailbox, with the longest wait being, by far, being Pat Combs. His autograph took a whopping 1,878 days (that’s over five years) to come back, setting my record for longest wait. The other long waits include Kevin Appier (1,516 days), Dan Peltier (912 days), Jon Coutlangus (846 days), John Lackey (662 days), Ryan Mottl (644 days), Adam Casillas (542 days), Doug Slaten (510 days), Jason Conti (477 days) and C.J. Wilson (464 days). Those are all just baseball players, though. The three football players for whom I waited the longest were Tony Boselli (316 days), Jim Harbaugh (272 days) and Chevis Jackson (264 days).

Some guys decided not to hold on to my cards for such a long time. In fact, my three shortest baseball waits were five, seven and eight days. Brent Gates and Mike Wallace took five days, Ritchie Moody, Scott Pose, Matt Rizzotti, Andy Tomberlin, John Viera, Kevin Ward and Eddie Watt took seven days, and P.J. Walters took eight days. My three shortest football waits were eight days (John Alt, Rich Camarillo and Kyle Clifton), 11 days (Dennis Dixon) and 22 days (Mark Brunell).

My very first success of 2010 came on January 6, when I opened up the mailbox to reveal none other than a Dennis Dixon autograph. On Christmas Eve, I received an early present in the form of my final success of the year—Oakland Athletics pitcher Brett Anderson.

Though I do not do a lot of in-person autograph collecting, I did do a little in 2010 and received quite a few ‘graphs as a result. Two of my favorites include Gary Ward and Chris Chambliss.

In regards to big stuff happening on my site, well…2010 was a pretty boring year. It reached 125,000 visitors on December, 19, which is pretty awesome.

And finally, my best successes of 2010, by month:

 

January:  John Lackey

February: Jim Thome
March: Pat Combs

April: Jim Arnold

May: Tony Boselli

June: Mike Timlin

July: Brad Ausmus

August: Gordon Beckham
September: Drew Stubbs

October: Jake Arrieta

November: Adam Melhuse

December: Brett Anderson


As we enter the first year of the second decade of the 21st century, here’s hoping your mailboxes never stop overflowing with autograph successes. Here’s hoping 2011 is a better year, autograph wise, than 2010.

Posted in early 2011.

2009 in Review

What a year 2009 was. It was a year of ups and it was a year of downs. I had days where I beat records, and I had days (and days, and days) on end where I received nothing at all. To be laconic, 2009 was…interesting.

 

The year started off average. I sent out an average amount of requests and received an average number of successes. Then, during the summer, there was a success explosion. I received many autographs through the mail at a rate greater than ever. On June 8, I broke my previous record for most successes in a day (which was six), when I received nine. Things were going great.

 

But then, toward the end of the year, it tailed off. October brought me only nine successes. November was worse, with only three. And then came December, which was perhaps my worst month ever. I received only one success, Jacob Tamme.

 

Oh well, what’s in the past is in the past. Statistically, I did pretty well in ‘09. I mailed out 354 requests (320 for baseball, 33 for football and one for “other”), which was less than 2008 but still not too bad—it’s still an average of nearly 30 requests a month. I received a total of 186 successes, or about 16 a month, or one every two days. That’s not too shabby either. And, it gives me a pretty solid success rate of 52.5%--though that success rate is misleading, because not all of those successes were mailed in 2009. So, in reality, I really had a success rate of “only” 42%, if the requests I sent and received in 2009 are the only ones counted.

 

Of the 320 baseball requests I sent, I received 44% back. Football was the worst—I received only 27% of my football requests back. The “other” I sent to, which was a mascot (I know, I know) came back, so that success rate is 100%. And though I had a bunch of successes last year, I also had a bunch of failures too: 27. That seems to be about the average amount of failures I receive each year.

 

Not only did I set a record for most successes received in a day, I also set a record for longest wait time. On October 17, I received actor and comedian Wayne Brady’s autograph in the mail after a 1,520 day—or 4.2 year—wait. He wasn’t the only person to take a long time to get back to me, though.

 

In fact, baseball player John Smoltz took 1,573 days to get back to me, which is longer than Brady—but, I’m 99.9% sure it is autopenned, so I don’t count it as my record. My second longest baseball wait was retired minor leaguer Bobby Dejardin, at 540 days, and my third longest was Orlando Cabrera at 495 days. As well, Ubaldo Jimenez took 427 days, and retired minor leaguer Jeff Montani took 403 days. On the football side of the spectrum, Matt Hasselbeck was my longest wait, at 370 days. Eric Weddle took 276 days, and Calvin Williams took 191 days.

 

Some guys took a real long time, and others…well…didn’t. My shortest wait of 2009 was Brandon Waring, who took only six days to come back to me. My second shortest wait was seven days. Ted Rose, Bob Montgomery and John Eierman all took a week to return. A whole slew of people took eight days to come back: Ryan Carter, Dana Allison, Dominic Desantis, Kennard Bibbs, Jeff Winchester, Michael Wlodarczyk, Jon Tucker, and football player Frank Stams (who, coincidentally, was my shortest football wait). My other two shortest football waits were Greg Montgomery (10 days) and Jacob Tamme (19 days).

 

My very first success of 2009 was Travis Buck, who I received on the second of January. My last success was Jacob Tamme, who I received on the fifth of December (I went nearly a whole month with a success!).

 

In terms of in-person graphing, I did a little bit. I had the opportunity to go to six Rochester Red Wings games, at which I received a bunch of autographs A couple of my favorites include Danny Valencia, who is a top prospect in the Twins’ organization, and Hall of Famer Paul Molitor.

 

I reached a pretty big milestone in 2009, as I mailed out my 2,500th (official—that is—recorded) request. I unofficially reached that mark before that date, because I didn’t start keeping track of my requests until 2003.

 

Now, onto notable stuff involving my website, my involvement on the Internets and so forth. On May 16, my site received its 100,000th visitor, which is a pretty cool. I debuted Free-Autographs.net early in the year, which has become pretty popular. Well, that’s about it.

 

And finally, my best successes of 2009, by month:

 

January: Travis Buck

February: Brian Blades
March: Darryl Talley

April: Luke Hochevar

May: Jason Marquis

June: Billy Wagner

July: Joey Votto

August: Adam Wainwright

September: Jarrod Saltalamacchia

October: Matt Hasselbeck

November: Orlando Cabrera

December: Jacob Tamme

 

Here’s hoping 2010 is a successful year for not just me, but for all of you. In addition, thanks for continuing to visit my site, here’s hoping hit number 200,000 isn’t too far away!


Posted in early 2010.

 

 

New York Mets, 2009: How Unlucky Can One Team Get?

If you haven’t even been following baseball this year, you may still have heard about the incredible lack of luck the New York Mets have been experiencing this year. It is a lack of luck mostly brought on by injuries, although there have been some rather unlucky single plays that have contributed to the overall demise of the 2009 Mets as well. It is this that I ask you: How unlucky can one team get?

First, let’s start with the injuries. Most recently, it was reported that the staff ace—Johan Santana—is going to miss the rest of the season due to minor elbow surgery (which is actually a smart move; there is no point in rushing him back since this is a lost season anyway). David Wright, their star third baseman, was plunked in the head and was placed on the 15-day disabled list, although he will probably be back soon. Still, 15 days without your best player makes any stretch of games tough to play.

Then there is Carlos Delgado, who was the first big Mets star to lose time due to injury. He hurt his hip and strained his oblique, and he was placed on the 60-day DL. Whenever it looked like he may be making progress, something seemed to hold him up. The other Carlos—Carlos Beltran—was hitting .336 when he went down, a major loss to the team. Supposedly, he is due back in September…but the way luck has treated the Mets this year, he’ll probably trip and fall before his first game back and injure something else. Speedy Jose Reyes was another big star to go down. He hurt his hamstring and had knee inflammation, and he may miss the rest of the season.

In total, four of the Mets’ big offensive stars are currently on the disabled list. Even their replacements haven’t been spared the wrath of the (apparently) unhappy baseball gods, however. Alex Cora, who had been filling in for Jose Reyes at shortstop, injured ligaments in both of his thumbs and is likely out for the rest of the year. Highly-touted prospect Fernando Martinez, who hit .176 in 91 at-bats this year, tore his meniscus and was put on the DL. Ramon Martinez, who spent all of 12 games in the big leagues, dislocated his pinky and was placed on the 60-day DL. Gary Sheffield, who is leading the Mets in home runs with just ten, was on the DL earlier this season as well.

Oh, but there’s more. We haven’t talked about the pitchers yet: John Maine has been out for a long time, because he hurt his right shoulder. J.J. Putz was placed on the 60-day DL after breaking a bone spur in his elbow, and rotation replacements Jonathon Niese and Fernando Nieve are both out. Nieve may be back, but Niese is done for the year. Earlier in the year, Oliver Perez was on the disabled list also, although many Mets fans might agree that he wasn’t that great of a loss.

And the injuries keep coming. Jeff Francoeur, who the Mets acquired for Ryan Church, bruised his left thumb and may be placed on the disabled list too. Let’s tally them up, then: currently, the Mets have 12 players on the disabled list. Four are offensive stars:  David Wright, Carlos Beltran, Carlos Delgado and Jose Reyes. Three of the players were replacements for the injured stars—those being Ramon Martinez, Fernando Martinez and Alex Cora. Two are starting pitchers that began the season with the team, one who is excellent (Johan Santana) and one who is solid (John Maine). Two more are starting pitchers who came in to fill in the gaps that were left by the injured players, both of which were showing promise: Fernando Nieve and Jonathon Niese. They lost one solid reliever (J.J. Putz; although he wasn’t that great this year), too. To top it off, Gary Sheffield and Oliver Perez spent time on the DL earlier, and Jeff Francoeur might be heading there soon. (EDIT: this just in -- Oliver Perez is out for the season as well.)

Right now, the Mets team is so rag-tag they should just move to Buffalo, where their Triple-A team the Bisons is located, and call themselves “Buffalo Bisons 2”. Just look at some of the names on the Mets’ current roster: Wilson Valdez, Pat Misch, Nelson Figueroa, Cory Sullivan. It’s kind of sad when your team is being anchored offensively by Luis Castillo, of all people.

Of course, it’s not just injuries that have contributed to the Mets bad season. Random plays have factored in as well—such as when Luis Castillo dropped the ball, literally, on a popup in a game in mid-June against the Yankees, causing a run to score and the Yankees to win. Just recently, Jeff Francoeur hit into an unassisted triple play to end a game, only the second time in big league history that that has happened.

And again I ask, how unlucky can one team get?

Posted during the Mets' injury-filled 2009 season, sometime during August.

 

2008 in Review


I can't believe it has been a whole year since I've written an article or rant. Well, here we go - 2008 in Review:

2008 was, well, kind of disappointing. In total, I mailed out 411 requests this year, which is the most I've mailed out since 2005. I received a total of 184 successes, which gives me a 44.8% success rate. Nothing too disappointing about that, it falls in line with my usual return percentage. However, of all the requests I sent in 2008 specifically, only 120 of them came back - which equals out to a 29% success rate for 2008-sent requests. That's not too impressive. Ah, but why am I complaining? I received a success about once every two days, which isn't too shabby, and I averaged about 15 successes a month, as opposed to 14 a month in 2007.

2008 was a year of extremes. I had some successes take an extremely long time to get back to me, and some take and extremely short amount of time to get back to me. First, I'll discuss the ones that took a long time to come back to me. My three longest waits of the year were all football players. Sam Adams, who took 1,476 days (about four years) to return my cards to me, set a new record for my longest wait ever. My longest wait ever record had previously been set earlier in the year, when Eugene Amano took 1,227 days to return my index card. Shawn Springs was the third longest wait of 2008, taking 1,031 days to get back to me (as a side note, nearly 1/2 of all my 2008 football successes took 200 days or more to get back to me). In 2008, my three longest baseball waits were Nick Johnson, who took 936 days, Derek Livernois (a retired minor leaguer of all people!) took 653 days and Joe Borchard took 528 days. Other guys who took over a year to return my cards to me include Renaldo Wynn (football, 844 days), CC Sabathia (baseball, 514 days) and Tom Gorzelanny (baseball, 469 days).

Now for the guys who took a really short amount of time to return my cards. You know how all my longest waits were football? Well, all my shortest waits were baseball. The least amount of time I had to wait for a success to return to me was five days, courtesy of a retired minor leaguer named David Jacas. Two guys took six days to come back to me - retired big leaguer Bob Coluccio and retired minor leaguer David Becker. Finally, a whole bunch of people took exactly one week (seven days) to return to me: retired minor leaguers Keith Stamler and JD Foust, minor leaguers Luis Durango, Chance Chapman, Allen Craig, Karl Bolt, Kyle Aselton, Aaron Hartsock, Rob Alcombrack, Chris Valaika and John Otness and former big leaguer Keith Hughes. My three shortest football waits were Jeff Webb (13 days), Michael Griffin (20 days) and Zach Miller (23 days).

My very first successes of 2008 were Ryan Hawblitzel, JJ Furmaniak and Jeff Small, all of which I received in January 3. My final success of 2008 was Harold Allen, which I received on December 26.

I also did some in-person graphin' in 2008, with my favorite successes being Ron Guidry and Bill "Spaceman" Lee.

I accomplished one big milestone in 2008, that is I mailed out my 2000th success on July 21st.

In November, 2008 I began developing a new site that should be debuting pretty soon.

Let me wrap this up by showing my 12 best successes of 2008, by month:

January, 2008: CC Sabathia
February, 2008: Roosevelt Brown
March, 2008: John Maine
April, 2008: Jay Bruce
May, 2008: Pat Hentgen
June, 2008: Jesse Crain
July, 2008: Garrett Anderson
August, 2008: Curtis Granderson
September, 2008: Jeff Clement
October, 2008: Bert Blyleven
November, 2008: Michael Griffin
December, 2008: Josh Hamilton

Well, that was 2008. Here's to a successful 2009!

Posted in early 2009.



2007 In Review

What a year 2007 was! Last year, I mailed out 335 requests and had 164 successes, which gives me a 49% success rate for the year. Although I mailed out 18 less requests than in 2006, I received exactly 18 more successes than 2006 as well - so I guess not mailing out as many didn't hurt me that much. I averaged one success every 2.2 days, or about 14 successes a month. That's not too shabby in my opinion! However, statistics do tend to lie a bit. Although I averaged one success every 2.2 days, that doesn't really mean I received one success every 2.2 days - in fact, there were times when I went at least a week without a success. Hopefully I can improve upon that in 2008!

I had many successes take a long time to return to me in 2007, a few of which took over one year. My three longest waits of 2007 were Ricky Stone, who took 815 days; Pat Hentgen, who took 775 days; and Phil Norton, who took 622 days. On the football front, I didn't receive too many successes. My three longest football waits were Mike Nugent, who took 289 days; Warrick Dunn, who took 275 days; and Oshiomoghu Atogwe, who took 212 days. I had only one celebrity success in 2007, and it took over one year to come back to me: Wes Craven signed in 752 days. Overall, I had eight successes that took over one year come back to me.

Although a few successes took over one year to come back to me, I also had a number of successes take a very short amount of time to return to me as well. My shortest baseball wait was five days, which is credited to Sal Agostinelli. Six days was the second shortest wait, and three players took that long: Bill Norris, Dave Swartzbaugh and Larry Barnes. The third shortest baseball wait was seven days, accomplished by four players: Jeff Neely, Joe Kraemer, Tom Nuneviller and Jacobo Meque.

My three shortest football waits weren't really all that short. The quickest was 30 days, by Bryan Chiu. Uzooma Okeke was next fastest at 33 days, and Anthony Calvillo was third fastest at 37 days. It's interesting to note that all three of those guys are CFL football player, not NFL.

On January 3rd, I received my very first success of the year - the aforementioned Jeff Neely. My final success came on December 26, when a Gerald Williams autograph arrived in my mailbox.

Throughout the year, I and my website achieved a few milestones. On May 15, I mailed my 1500th autograph request, and on January 27, I passed the 50,000 hit mark on my site. On December 21, I passed the 75,000 hit mark.

Although I mostly did TTM autographing, I did a little in person autographing in 2007 as well. My favorite IP success was Hall of Famer Paul Molitor.

To wrap this up, here are the 12 best successes of 2007:

January: Khalil Greene
February: Steve Reed
March: Kevin Youkilis
April: Cliff Lee
May: Bo Hart
June: Mark Buehrle
July: Terry Francona
August: Pat Neshek
September: Orlando Cabrera
October: James Loney
November: Cole Hamels
December: Jim Thome

2007 was a great year. Here's hoping 2008 is even better!

Posted in early 2008.

 

Hall of Fame 2008: What I think, Part II

These are all the first timers on the 2008 ballot. For each one, I have written why or why not they should be in the Hall of Fame.

Tim Raines. The best and most likely of all the first timers to be inducted. His 2605 hits and .294 were great and good respectively, but it is his 808 stolen bases that should get him in. He is fifth all-time on the steals list, and beside Vince Coleman would be the only man eligible for the Hall of Fame with 750 or more steals that is not in the Hall of Fame. He was a seven time All-Star, was constantly on the OBP, hits, triples, BB, stolen bases (among other things) leaderboards. Of the top ten players that are most similar to him statistically, five are in the Hall of Fame: Lou Brock, Max Carey, Fred Clarke, Harry Hooper and Enos Slaughter. His grey ink and black ink are under that of the average Hall of Famer, and the Hall of Fame monitor doesn't even call him a "likely" Hall of Famer. But, I think he belongs in the Hall of Fame, and should get in eventually.

David Justice. Hit 305 home runs, which is good, but not Hall of Fame worthy. His chances are made even less likely when you consider that he hit only .279, played only 14 seasons and was a dud in the postseason. Only one Hall of Famer is statistically similar to him - Larry Doby - but the most similar player is Tim Salmon, who, like Justice, probably won't ever get in. His grey ink is less that three times that of the average Hall of Famer, and the Hall of Fame monitor has him as a very unlikely Hall of Famer. He doesn't belong.

Brady Anderson. If you're going to have a .256 career batting average, you also have to be spectacular defensively, a la Bill Mazeroski. By his lack of Gold Gloves (he won a whopping zero) he clearly wasn't that great in the field. 1661 hits, 210 home runs and 315 stolen bases are not enough to get a guy into the Hall. His grey ink is nearly four times less than that of the average Hall of Famer and the Hall of Fame monitor has him even less likely a Hall of Famer than David Justice. He is not statistically similar to any Hall of Famers. He doesn't ever belong.

Rod Beck. He was a great reliever during his prime, but if you're going to be a closer in today's era and expect to get into the Hall, you either have to have a gargantuan amount of saves and/or a really low ERA. Beck had neither. To add insult to injury, he played only 13 seasons, which is really low for a Hall of Famer. Not one of the players he is most similar to are in the Hall of Fame and his black and grey ink are terrible. His black is one (the average Hall of Famer's is 40) and his grey ink is 23 (the average Hall of Famer's is 185). Hall of Fame monitor however says that he is more deserving than David Justice or Brady Anderson to get in, however I don't ever see it happening. If the Hall of Fame ever gets watered down that much, then it would become more or less the Hall of Shame. He doesn't ever belong.

Shawon Dunston. He averaged less than 100 hits a season, collecting only 1597 in an 18 year career. He didn't do any one thing super well: 150 homers, 212 steals and his strikeout to walk ratio was nearly five to one. He was a notoriously bad walker in his career: I remember when he played with the New York Mets, he didn't walk once in 42 games. Over the final six seasons in his career, he didn't walk more than 10 times in a season once, although each year he struck out at least 25 times. He was a good player at most in his prime, but not a Hall of Famer by any meaning of the phrase. There are no Hall of Famers statistically similar to him, his grey ink is 138 less than the average Hall of Famer's and the Hall of Fame monitor has him basically as a zero percent chance kind of guy. He doesn't belong, ever.

Chuck Finley. He was certainly a great pitcher in his best years, but no where near a Hall of Famer. He posted a .536 winning percentage (hey, it's better than Nolan Ryan) but Finley only won 200 games. He was a great strikeout pitcher and had he started his career just two years earlier and lasted another year or so, he would be looking at 3,000 career strikeouts and a much improved chance at the Hall. But, he only has 2610 strikeouts, and add that to a 3.85 career ERA, his chances are really slim. No Hall of Famers are statistically similar to him and he only has a black ink score of 6. His grey ink is actually pretty good being that it's 156 and the average Hall of Famer's is 185, but the Hall of Fame monitor has him as an unlikely Hall of Famer. I agree with that, I don't think he belongs.

Travis Fryman. He hit .274 with 1776 hits and 223 home runs in 13 seasons. Really, that's all I need to say. But, I'll say more: his strikeout to walk ratio was 2:1, he was a postseason dud and his career was too short. He was an All-Star quite a few times, but that doesn't merit his election into the Hall. Not one Hall of Famer is statistically similar to him, his black ink is two, his grey ink is 20 and the Hall of Fame monitor has him as very, very unlikely. He doesn't belong, ever.

Chuck Knoblauch. He was a great basestealer in his day and is well remembered for his funky batting stance. His .289 average and 1839 hits in 12 seasons are respectable, but he is still far from being a Hall of Famer (although Lou Boudreau is statistically similar to him). His black ink is 3, grey ink is 67 and the Hall of Fame monitor has him as unlikely. He might not be the worst choice ever (there are a couple worse players in the Hall than he) but I don't believe he ever deserves induction into the Hall of Fame.

Robb Nen. He was a top closer during his career and it stinks that he was forced to retire so young. I guarantee you he'd be in the Hall of Fame had he played five more years. That said, his 2.98 ERA and 314 saves are great, but he didn't play long enough in my opinion. His black and grey ink were both terrible, however the Hall of Fame monitor has him as an even more likely Hall of Famer than Raines. The tenth most similar player to him statistically, Bruce Sutter, is in the Hall as well. Robb Nen was at the top of his class for a while, and probably will get at least a couple votes. I always thought he was a great player and wouldn't hate seeing him in the Hall, however I think there are others that should get in before him. If he belongs in, it's not for a very long time.

Jose Rijo. He actually had a respectable career ERA with his 3.24 mark, but his record was only 116-91 and he averaged less than 10 wins a season. No Hall of Famers are statistically similar, his black and grey ink are bad, and the Hall of Fame monitor has him as being very unlikely. He never belongs.

Todd Stottlemyre. Posting a 4.28 career ERA is no way to get you into the Hall. Neither is winning only 138 games in 14 seasons and having a .533 winning percentage. No Hall of Famers are statistically similar to him (which is a good thing) and his grey ink is terrible. The Hall of Fame monitor has him one point more likely that Shawon Dunston, which means he'll never get in, and rightly so.

Posted sometime before the 2008 Hall of Fame election (which was held in late 2007).

 

Hall of Fame 2008: What I Think

These are all non-first timers on the 2008 ballot. For each one, I have written why or why not they should be in the Hall of Fame.

Rich Gossage. On the Baseball-Reference Similarity Scores, the two players he is most similar to statistically are Hall of Famers - Rollie Finger and Hoyt Wilhelm. One of the best closers of his era. The Hall of Fame monitor says he has a score of 126, while the likely Hall of Famer's is 100. He belongs, 100%.

Tommy John. Has the second most wins of any pitcher not in the Hall, but his case is not as strong as Blyleven's because he didn't have an incredibly high strikeout total to offset his less than stellar winning percentage. He was a postseason pitching star, finishing with a postseason record of 12-5. He was only an All-Star four times and never won a Cy Young award. Then again, neither did Blyleven, and Blyleven was an All-Star only twice (but Bly did strikeout 3700+ batters). John had horrible black ink, respectable grey ink (but not equal to or above the average Hall of Famer's) and the Hall of Fame monitor gives him a score of 111. Six of the 10 players most similar to him statistically are in the Hall (however, some - like Eppa Rixey - are considered "mistakes"). I don't support him as strongly, he should get in after Dawson, Gossage and Blyleven.

Don Mattingly. Had he played ball in the 1920s and 1930s, he would have been elected to the Hall of Fame under Frankie Frisch's reign as chairman of the Veteran's Committee in the 1960s and 1970s. They liked good average hitters with fair power who had relatively short careers (ahem Chick Hafey). I think the knock against Mattingly is his career was shortened by back problems. If it were maybe just three years longer, his chances would be greater. The numbers say that he wouldn't be the worst choice for the Hall of Fame however. His black ink and grey ink are just a tad under the average Hall of Famer's, and the Hall of Fame monitor has him at 133.5 points - a likely Hall of Famer has about 100 points. Two of the ten most similar players to him statistically are in the Hall - Kirby Puckett and Jim Bottomley. I wouldn't hate it if he got in. I'd say he belongs, but some guys should be let in before him first.

Mark McGwire. Last year I didn't even put him on my top 10 list, but I've had a change of heart. Basically he was just a Dave Kingman with more power and a better eye at the plate (who could hit for higher average), but he was a good player. Only two of the 10 most similar players to him are in the Hall, but his black ink is higher than the average Hall of Famer's and his grey ink isn't much lower. The Hall of Fame monitor says he should be in. The dark cloud of steroids looms however, so I don't think he'll get in. He should get in eventually, I think he belongs, but he should have to wait a few years.

Jack Morris. To start, his ERA was too high - 3.90. His 250+ wins are a plus as are the number of times he finished in the top 10 for Cy Young voting (although he never won). Six Hall of Famers are similar to him statistically, his black ink is higher than the average Hall of Famer's and the Hall of Fame monitor has him as a "likely" Hall of Famer. He certainly was a great pitcher, not great enough for the Hall though. I don't think he belongs.

Dale Murphy. Was an All-Star a lot and a Gold Glover a lot. His black ink, grey ink and Hall of Fame monitor scores are all higher than an average and likely Hall of Famer. His offensive statistics don't really seem all that great (they're Joe Carter-esque) and only two of the 10 most similar batters to him are in the Hall. He played in a lot of hitter friendly parks in his career. I'm not saying he doesn't belong in the Hall, but he's not the greatest choice in the world.

Dave Parker. He reminds me of Al Oliver, who I wouldn't mind seeing in the Hall. I wouldn't mind seeing Parker in the Hall either. Him, Harold Baines and Andre Dawson are the only players with 2700+ hits and 300+ home runs who are not in the Hall of Fame. Two of the 10 most similar players to him statistically are in the Hall. His black ink score (26) is only one point lower than that of the average Hall of Famer's. His grey ink score is higher and the Hall of Fame monitor has him as a likely Hall of Famer. Parker belongs in the Hall of Fame one day.

Harold Baines. If you're a DH for most of your career, the only way that you should be able to get into the Hall is if you hit 500 home runs or get 3000 hits. Baines did neither. He finished with only 2866 hits and 384 homers. His black ink is terrible as is his grey ink. He doesn't belong.

Bert Blyleven. Had a better career winning percentage than Nolan Ryan. Only player with 3,000 plus strikeouts not in the Hall or headed to it. Had 287 wins. Besides Bobby Mathews and Tommy John, that is the highest win total of any pitcher not in the Hall. Now don't give me this mumbo jumbo that he did all this just because he played a long time. Mike Morgan played a long time and finished with a 141-186 record. And if you think he only got those numbers because he played a long time, then same goes for Ryan. Anywho, grey ink has him at 237 points, which is over 50 points higher than the average Hall of Famer. Hall of Fame monitor has him at 120.5 points, which is 20.5 points higher that the likely Hall of Famer. Eight of the 10 players most statistically similar to him are in the Hall. HE BELONGS, 100%.

Dave Concepcion. The Big Red Machine wouldn't have been the same without him. He was a constant All-Star and a multi-time Gold Glove winner. He hit only .267 with 101 home runs and 950 RBI however, and that's not too impressive. Bobby Wallace - a Hall of Famer - is the player most similar to him, and he has three other HOFers that are statistically similar as well. Grey ink - bleh, but Hall of Fame monitor has him as a likely Hall of Famer. I don't think he belongs, but he'll probably get in one day.

Andre Dawson. A member of the 400 home run, 300 stolen base club - one of only three ballplayers in that club. According to the Similarity Scores, five of the 10 most statistically similar players to him are in the Hall, with the top two being in the Hall. He has the grey ink of a Hall of Famer and then some. The average Hall of Famer's grey ink is 144, his is 164. The Hall of Fame monitor says his score is 118, while the likely Hall of Famer's is 100. He definitely belongs, 100%.

Jim Rice. Was a great player during his career. He hit .298 with 382 homers and 2542 hits. He was a constant All-Star and even won an MVP award. His black ink is 6 points higher than the average Hall of Famer's, while his grey ink is 32 points higher. He's a likely Hall of Famer and then some. Four of the players most similar to him are in the Hall. He didn't have one statistic that just stands out at you (500 homers, 3000 hits, 600 steals) but I do think he belongs.

Lee Smith. The man held the record for most career saves for goodness sakes! 478 is a lot in a career, even for today. Rollie Fingers and Bruce Sutter both compare to him, although Jeff Reardon is the most similar. Reardon was great too, but not a Hall of Famer. However, Reardon saved over 100 games less than Smith and had an ERA .13 points higher. Hall of Fame monitor says Smith is a likely Hall of Famer. He belongs.

Alan Trammell. 2365 hits, .285 average - not really Hall of Fame material, in my opinion. Only one Hall of Famer is statistically similar to him. He was an All-Star a bunch a times and a Gold Glover a few, and he did play shortstop, a historically less offensively oriented position (although that is changing nowadays). Although Hall of Fame monitor has him as a likely HOFer, I've never advocated his induction - he doesn't belong.

Posted sometime before the 2008 Hall of Fame election (which was held in late 2007).

 

Collecting Sports Cards And Autographs Is More Than Just A Hobby

Reed, from www.sportstickets411.com, submitted the following article:
 

 
We all like to collect sports cards of our favorite football, baseball or basketball players. We also like to collect their autographs for our own personal collection. Autograph collecting has become an extremely popular hobby, especially since the 1980's. Earlier only children would want to get autographs of their favorite stars. These days everyone wants that special squiggle as a reminder that they met their star and the star obliged them with an autograph.
 
Most sports stars sign autographs for free but there are others who do not want their autographs distributed free of cost. A couple of sportsmen belonging to this group are Barry Bonds and the late Joe DiMaggio. Getting autographs of stars is usually very difficult as they can be very elusive or are always surrounded by too many fans. Michael Jordan was unable to give his autograph to his many fans.
 
Unfortunately, a number of dealers have cropped up with money making schemes by selling autographs of famous players. They usually get a large number of photographs signed by the stars and sell them for a very high price. Most celebrities do not even realize that these autograph seekers sell their autographs to make money.
 
Autographs have a very interesting history. Any document which had the signature of an official of high standing was considered to be of immense value. The Chinese Emperors autograph was worth a fortune and anyone caught selling it would receive severe punishment. Autographs of our favorite sports stars carry a similar worth and are considered very valuable.
 
Collecting autographs and cards of sports players is a hobby that has been going on for ages, but it is only in recent times that we have discovered how valuable they can really be. For instance, an old Dallas Cowboys football card of Don Meredith of the 1960's will now be worth a fortune. The many fans who discarded their cards at that time must be kicking themselves now! They have lost a small fortune.
 
There are a number of stores which sell sports memorabilia that have sports cards as well as autographs for sale. Several online sites sell them too. You will find that it is easier to get cards of teams of the last ten years or so. But the further back you go in time, the more difficult it is to get your hands on the prized cards. To get an authentic card of the baseball legend Babe Ruth or football legend Don Perkins, you will have to be prepared to shell out a small fortune. It is the same with autographs, especially since it wasn't such a rage in the early years. Many sports collectors boast a collection of autographed bats and balls, and many such items are exhibited in sports museums and other tourist spots all over the country.
 
Today, everyone wants an autograph of their favorite sportspeople. It is the hobby of many sports fans all over. An autograph collection of all the biggest stars in American sports would be worth a lot of money.
 
Al is the author and webmaster of Sports Tickets a resource site for sports tickets.

Posted in 2007 I believe.
 
 

2006 In Review

Another year of collecting is over. This past year, I sent out 353 requests-considerably less than what I sent out in 2005. Even though I sent out less requests in 2006, I still received 146 successes, which is one every 2.5 days. That's okay, but I would liked to have done better.

In 2006, I got into the hobby of collecting retired minor leaguers through the mail. It's very fun, because not only do you get a lot of successes, you also sometimes receive extra autographs and kind notes from the former players saying "thanks". I got so involved in doing that that I even decided to create a website, Minor League Addresses Plus, which shares addresses by which to contact retired minor leaguers.

I had many successes in 2006 that took over one year to get returned to me. In baseball, my three longest waits were Mike Woodard who took 741 days, Rick Huisman who took 625 days and Kyle Snyder who took 557 days. Quite honestly, I never would have expected any of them to take that long. In football, Cornelius Griffin was my longest wait at 648 days, followed by two from Kyle Brady-one took 600 days and the other took 530 days. But my longest wait was a celebrity-Herb Alpert of Tijuana Brass fame took 1,023 days to come back to me. Overall, I had 13 of my successes take over 365 days to come back.

Not only did I have some successes that took a really long time, but I also had some that took a really short amount of time as well. The shortest time was 7 days, which five baseball players managed to accomplish: Greg Everson, Philip Hughes, Scott Wade, Brad Pounders and Darren Hodges all took only one week to return my cards to me (note how four of those five players mentioned are retired minor leaguers). The second shortest wait for baseball was 8 days. Ken Ryan, Eric Cammack, Tate Seefried, Brett Caradonna, John Nicholson, Aldo Pecorilli and Danny Buxbaum all took only 8 days to come back to me. 5 out of those 7 were retired minor leaguers. The third shortest time it took for a baseball success to come back to me was 10 days, which occurred three times. Rick Trlicek, Tom Nevers and David Zancanaro all took only 10 days to be returned to me. With 2 of those 3 being retired minor leaguers, that means that 11 of the 15 successes that took the shortest amount of time to come back were retired minor leaguers.

My three shortest times in football were 10 days, 18 days and 19 days. Ellis Hobbs took only 10 days, while Jon Goldsberry took 18 and Nick Collins-my last success of 2006-took 19. For anyone who wants to know, my first success of 2006 was Chris Snelling.

In person this year was fun. Not only did I witness my first ever no-hitter, I also had some pretty awesome successes--my favorites being Goose Gossage, Gavin Floyd, Jeremy Cummings and the always-reliable Pat Neshek.

As for my website, it didn't really see many changes over the past year, although it did pass the 45,000 visitor mark, which is pretty awesome.

And, to wrap this up, my best successes of 2006:

January: Mike Sweeney
February: Bobby Crosby
March: Daryle Ward
April: Morgan Ensberg
May: Joe Mauer
June: Zach Greinke
July: Kevin Millwood
August: Freddy Sanchez
September: Austin Kearns
October: Jonathan Vilma
November: C.C. Sabathia
December: Jake Peavy

Posted sometime at the beginning of 2007.

WIN, THEY DID NOT

Well, I hate to admit it - and this is why it has taken me so long to write about it-but the New York Mets did not make it. They did not make it to the World Series - all because of one bad pitch by Aaron Heilman to Yadier Molina. Darn.

Oh well. 'Til next year perhaps - and hopefully next year they can go all the way, hopefully they can win the Series. It looks like they might just have what it takes, too.

They have a great mix of everything - power, speed, good pitching, youth, experience. Carlos Delgado, David Wright and Carlos Beltran should lead the power brigade next season-their 105 combined home runs in 2006 were over 50% of the team's total. Adding to the equation Jose Reyes, who hit 19 home runs last year-well, watch out National League, here we come.

Reyes and Endy Chavez should be all the speed they need-with Wright and Beltran adding some to the fold as well. Reyes is obviously the best base stealer on the team, swiping 64 bases in '06 (all the while hitting 17 triples, let us not forget that).

They have some good pitching-don't let the critics tell you otherwise. Their bullpen was one of the best in the league, with only one of the five main relievers having an ERA over 3.00 (Heilman at a respectable 3.62). They got some old guys in that starting rotation, but hopefully some of the younger guys-Bannister, Soler, Pelfrey-can pick up after them if they do bad.

The good mix of age and youth is another plus for this team-they have some young guys who I hope will make an impact next year-I'd like to see Anderson Hernandez and Lastings Milledge live up to their high expectations with Pelfrey and Philip Humber hopefully making an impact as well.

The one thing that kind of frightens me is their bench - besides Chavez and Julio Franco, they didn't have much else to work with in 2006. Chris Woodward hit only .216. Michael Tucker, Eli Marrero, Ricky Ledee, Mike DiFelice, Kelly Stinnett, Victor Diaz - they all hit under .200, with a few of them hitting  under .100. Hopefully a few well-crafted off season trades and pick ups can help bolster the bench.

And with that, all I can say is..."Let's Go Mets!"

Posted sometime after the Mets' agonizing defeat to the Cardinals in the 2006 NLCS (thanks a lot Aaron Heilman).
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Baseball's Unappreciated Statistics
Wait...That Chris Capuano won 18 games?

As a matter of fact, Chris Capuano did win 18 games last season. Do you know why you didn't hear anything about it? Because Capuano played for a team that went 81-81 in 2005. Oh yeah, he also had a .600 winning percentage, which was the highest out of all the starters on the team (except Rick Helling. He went 3-1 on the season. He only started 7 games, though. Darn you Rick Helling). Capuano also tied for the league lead in games started. And with all this being done on a team as mediocre as the Brewers, did he get any Cy Young Award consideration? No. He didn't even get a single vote. Not one. Nada. Zilcho mundo. And his 18 wins aren't the only unappreciated statistics from the 2005 baseball season either. There are more. Like...

Brian Giles. The guy had a .301 batting average and a .906 OPS in 2005 and only finishes ninth in MVP voting. That's higher than Miguel Tejada's OPS in 2002 and Tejada actually won the MVP Award that year. Still, his batting average and OPS really aren't what I find unappreciated about Giles' statistics. What I find unappreciated about Giles statistics are his walks totals, and more specifically, his BB:K ratio. In 2005, Giles walked 119 times and led the National League in that category. But do I hear anybody talking about that? No. I hear people talking about Barry Bonds' steroid scandal, and a Sammy Sosa corked bat. Stop talking about Bonds and Sosa and start talking about Giles' amazing walk total, people! Stop unappreciating the real statistics. And I don't hear anyone talking about Giles' BB:K ratio. His ratio in 2005-1.86:1-is an amazing number. He even outdid himself, by beating his career ratio of 1.43:1. That might not seem very impressive, but just look at Jose Hernandez. He had a BB:K ratio of .23:1 in 2005. For every walk, he would have struckout 5 times. Not good. Not Giles good. But people would rather be talking about how bad Hernandez did when it came to the strikeouts rather than how good Giles' did when it came to his walking. And that's not good. Appreciate people. Because one day, Giles may never post statistics as good as that again. Ever.

Oh yeah, Chris Ray too. This kid appeared in 41 games as a  rookie last year for the Orioles, posted a 2.66 ERA and struckout 43 in just over 40 innings of work. But, he was playing for the Orioles, a team with a 74-88 record. So, his work went unappreciated.  While everyone was talking about that Conor Jackson guy and that Ryan Zimmerman guy-who aren't even in the same league as Ray-Chris wasn't getting much attention. I mean, how can a guy who hits only .200 in 85 at-bats (I'm talking about Jackson here) get more attention that a guy who has and ERA as small and nice as 2.66? And Ryan Zimmerman only hit .397 in 58 at-bats. Come on, if you can't even break .400, get off the field. Get off the field and let Chris Ray on it. Just watch, Chris Ray will go on to pitch in 1500 games and post an ERA of 2.50 with 1700 strikeouts in his career. And Zimmerman will break his leg and never play again, and Jackson will spend his entire career as a utility player. And you'll be at home watching ESPN, seeing Ray getting inducted into the Hall of Fame. And then you'll be thinking "aw gee, I guess I should have appreciated his rookie season more." And I'll be at home watching ESPN, seeing Ray getting inducted in the Hall of Fame, laughing at all you unappreciaters. I can feel the giggles starting already.

And finally, Rick Short. "Rick who?", You ask? Yeah, Rick Short. While that Livan Hernandez pitcher guy and that Jose Guillen batter guy were making the headlines, Short-a 32 year old rookie in 2005 with the Nationals-was doing his thing. Living the dream. Yeah. If you've even heard of him before, did you know that he hit .400 in 15 at-bats for the Nats this past year? No? Okay then...did you know that two out of his six hits were home runs, and four out of his six hits were for extra-bases? No? I would called those statistics pretty unappreciated then. Especially coming from a guy who spent 12 seasons in the minors. I mean, what's his name Petagine of the Red Sox wasn't even in American baseball for six years and he got more attention than Short did. Were 67% of Petagine's hits for extra bases? No. As a matter of fact, Petagine only hit one home run in nine hits. Okay, okay. I can tell you don't know much about this Rick Short character. But you must know that Short never struck out more than 60 times in a season in the minors. Still no? Alright. Then you probably didn't know this: Short posted a .383 average in 108 minor league games in 2005 (and a .356 average in 2002). Just like I guessed. You didn't know that. While Rick Short was producing, no one was appreciating. Boo is what I say to that. Boo is what I say to all the unappreciation. Just watch. While Chris Ray wins the Cy Young Award this upcoming season, Rick Short will become the first ever 33 year old Rookie of the Year. I'll bet a box full of air on that.

And that's it. Capuano, Giles, Ray and Short all posted exemplary statistics in 2005, and they all went far too unappreciated. Now please. Go. Appreciate. These statistics do not just have to be small marks in a book, they can make headlines too!

Yay statistics!

Posted sometime after the 2005 season - early 2006, I imagine.

2005 In Review

At the beginning of the year, I set three goals for 2005: to get the ever-elusive Phil Niekro to autograph a card, to send out at least 300 requests, and to achieve a success rate of 40% or more. I'll have to live with 2 out of 3 (which is an amazing batting average, so who am I to complain?). It took me three tries to get Phil Niekro, but I finally did get him on February 2nd. I achieved my second goal with flying colors, by actually sending out around 550 requests, which is 250 more that what I set out to attain. Alas, I did not quite reach my final goal. The goal was to attain a 40% overall success rate, but mine was a mere 34%. At least it's an improvement-at one point, my success rate was only 21%!

In April, I decided to try to obtain an autograph from every current and former living major leaguer born on my birthday. There were 18 people who fit that criteria, and by the end of the year, I was only 5 away from completing the goal.

My website saw major improvements, as I added multiple pages and overall improved the look and feel of it. In March, I bought a premium service, which allowed unlimited pages and images. That gave me much for freedom with the website. In September, I bought the domain name, baseballautographs.webs.com, which I think is a huge improvement over the old freewebs.com/baseballautographs address. I was hoping for 20,000 visitors by the sites' two year anniversary in April, 2006. Already I have over 25,000!

I received many good autographs this year. Niekro, Carl Erskine, Barry Zito, Hank Blalock, and J.D. Drew are some of my favorites. Getting Harold Baines was a definite surprise, as was Terry Glenn. Overall, I was pleased with my autograph successes this year.

Posted sometime at the beginning of 2006.

 

Astros vs. White Sox
And the winner is...

The Astros vs. the White Sox, wait-it's not interleague play, is it? Then why would they be facing each other at this time of year? The World Series? Where are the Yankees, the Braves? The answers-no, it's the World Series, yes, and out of the playoffs.

The Astros and White Sox are two teams that no one would think to be playing in the Series, but they are. Here is why the White Sox will win it all:

  • The Chicago White Sox hit 39 more home runs in 2005 than did the Astros.
  • Not only can Chicago hit more home runs, they can play more small ball-they stole 22 more bases, and hit more sacrifice flies. One thing against them though is their sacrifice hit total is far surpassed by that of the Astros, 82 to 53.
  • Even though the Astros have great relievers in Wheeler and Lidge, the Sox have names who have proven themselves to be even more invaluable-Dustin Hermanson, Neal Cotts, and Cliff Politte each appeared in over 65 games, and had ERA's under 2.05.
  • The 5 main starters for the Astros-Roy Oswalt, Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte, Brandon Backe and Ezequiel Astacio combined won a total of 73 games and had a winning percentage of .579. The 5 main starters for the Sox-Mark Buehrle, Freddy Garcia, Jose Contreras, Jon Garland, and Orlando Hernandez combined won less games in 72, but had a winning percentage of .632.
  • The White Sox have Paul Konerko.

What more could you ask for?

Posted sometime during the 2005 World Series.

Kaz Matsui

Was he a waste, or is it just me?

 

 

 

Mets fans, you may like this article. Any others…well…you may not really care.

 

Now, as many of you know (or not), I’m a big Mets fan. They are the team I follow the most. I watch their games. I read up on their statistics. And when I see a Met not living up to his expectations, it hurts. It really does.

 

And, Kaz Matsui is really not living up to his expectations. He was supposed to be an Ichiro-esque player, and he has - it’s a struggle for me to say this - not. Now, I know it takes some people a few years to become acclimated to the Major League Baseball style, but you don’t have those few years when you’re a 27-year-old rookie! You should be in, or at least entering, your prime by now. And now, Kaz is hitting .230 on the season.

 

And it’s not just the fact that his average is low, either. Matsui has not shown the power or speed abilities that he showed over in Japan. What happened to 36 home run Kaz Matsui? Where did 62 stolen base Kaz go? My bet is they went with his health, which has not been very good, these past two years.

 

I know he’s been hurt, but that really can’t be an excuse, because when he’s healthy, he not showing anything either.

 

I've ranted long enough. Kaz just isn't what he was supposed to be. But, that's okay I guess.

 

Jeff Keppinger will be ready to take his spot any year now.


Posted sometime when Kaz Matsui became a miserable failure for the Mets - August 2005ish.

 

Terrell Owens

Just Shut-Up and Play!

 

 

 

            Words of advice to you Terrell Owens-sign the contract and play. Not only will you only lose a huge fan base (that is-if you haven’t already), you will also lose a great deal of respect from players around the league if you don’t. Now, I’m not an expert, but my theory is people are really getting tired of your ‘dispute’, if that’s what you call it. I mean, why should you be disputing about $3.25 million? You’d be earning about 75 times the median income of households throughout the United States!

 

Hey, I’ll take that money, if you really don’t want it. Heck, since it’s so bad, I’ll just suit up in your place, and play in the place of you. I’ll do it for that money. I’ll do it for half that. No, TO, I’ll  do it for 1/20th of that. Because that’s still a lot of money. That’s still $162,500.

 

Okay, so you don’t want me to play in your place. That’s understandable. But instead of continuing this media circus, stop it. Please. We know you’re a great wide receiver, but you don’t want to fall into the ranks of the all-time football jerks. We know you’re a great wide receiver…we know, we really do. You don’t need to tell us on ESPN everyday.

 

I mean, it’s really sad when there are money disputes over a game. A game! Terrell, you don’t know how lucky you are to be where you are. You have the opportunity to earn over three million dollars, for a game, and you’re turning it away for ‘more’. Please. Like I said…I’ll play in your place.

 

So, Terrell, just remember. If you don’t play, you’ll lose a large portion of your fan base, respect from players around the league, and have the media constantly buzzing about you (you do dislike that, don’t you?). Shut up and play. Sign the contract. Play this year.

 

And, don’t worry-by next year, we will be ready for a whole new contract dispute. 

Posted when Terrell Owens was being a baby about his contract - August 2005ish.