Monday, May 31, 2010

Who Is Hall Of Fame Worthy?

I just read a post on Facebook a little while ago about how at any one time there are 15-20 active MLB players that will make it to the Hall Of Fame. So, I thought it would be interesting to look at the current list of MLB Active (which means they have not retired) players to see if I could find 15-20.

First, I thought I should look at who I feel are the "no-brainers" that if their career ended today, would be in the HOF. I have that list at 7 players. These are the first ballot guys.

Derek Jeter- #44 in Hits @ 2812, #44 in Runs @ 1606, #89 in Doubles @ 449. Not to mention all of his awards, his clutch hits in the post season and he plays Short Stop which does not typically produce big time stats.

Ken Griffey Jr.- #46 in Hits @ 2781, #5 in HR's @ 630, #36 in Doubles @ 524, #14 in RBI @1836 and #31 in Runs @ 1662. He numbers also indicate the strong possibility that he never used any performance enhancing drugs as he showed a natural decline in statistics and never had the outrageous statistical seasons that some others have had, not to mention all of the injuries he had over his career.

Ivan Rodriguez- All time hits leader for a catcher and #46 overall @ 2751 and #23 in Doubles @ 556. Next to Johnny Bench, possibly the best catcher to ever have played. Brilliant defensively for most of his career, the last couple of years have been a little shaky. The only knock on him, that I can think of, is that he has been linked to PED's which was evident in his drop in weight and muscle 1 yr after being named in a Canseco book.

Alex Rodriguez- #80 in Hits @ 2583, #7 in HR's @ 589, #20 in RBI @1741, #25 in Runs @ 1712, #84 in Doubles @ 456. The big question here is how long did he use PED's? Their is no doubt that his stats are hall worthy. Another question might be "what statistic will he not be the leader of?" when he is completely finished.

Manny Ramirez- #87 in Hits @ 2522, #14 in HR's @ 549, #18 in RBI @ 1812, #59 in Runs @ 1520 and #30 in Doubles @ 537. Just a pure hitter. Not great in the field, but who cares with that kind of bat. Once again though, another player linked to PED's.

Gary Sheffield- #62 in Hits @ 2689, #24 in HR's @ 509, #25 in RBI @ 1676, #36 in Runs @ 1636 and #74 in Doubles @ 467. Another pure hitter that has a hard time on defense. And another player linked to PED's. Hard telling if it was the wrist injury in Detroit that really started his decline or the lack of PED's or both. But one thing for sure, he has some serious stats.

Mariano Rivera-#2 in career Saves @ 536 and a career ERA of 2.25. I don't there has ever been a player so dominant with just one pitch! When you look at his post-season career, it just gets even more ridiculous.

Here are a few more that are "not so slam dunks" but I think will definitely get in. In other words, they might or might not be 1st ballot guys. My guess is that they probably will not be and it will take them 2-4 ballots to get in.

Pedro Martinez- #13 in Strikeouts @ 3154, #76 in Wins @ 219, and a career ERA of 2.93. I had a hard time figuring out where to put him because I would like to see the Win total higher. No doubt though, a dominant pitcher. I do think he will get in, it just might take a couple of ballots.

John Smoltz- #88 in Wins @ 213, #16 in Strikeouts @ 3084, a career ERA of 3.33 and 154 Saves during his time as a closer. Dominant in the post season, perhaps the best starter in post season history. Injury problems lessened his stats a little bit. Personally, I think he is a first ballot type of player, but the voters seem to be weird with players that split time at different positions like he did.

Trevor Hoffman- #1 in Saves @596 and a career ERA of 2.85. This one might be a stretch to put him this high, only because closers do not do well in HOF voting. Lee Smith isn't even in the HOF yet, but his ERA is up over 3.00 which really hurts him.

Chipper Jones- #39 in HR's @ 428, #54 in RBI @1464, #74 in Runs @ 1477, #69 in Doubles @ 482 and 2440 hits. I would like his Hits number to be higher, but the power and production numbers should get him in.

That brings my total to 11 players. Here are the rest that need more stats to get in, in my opinion:

Albert Pujols- In only his 10th season, he is already #62 on the career HR list @ 378. His other numbers are 1775 Hits, 400 Doubles, 1150 RBI and 1102 Runs. He just needs to add stats, but there is no doubt that he should get them.

Miguel Cabrera- It is only his 8th season, so this might be an early call. He has 663 Runs, 1284 Hits, 801 RBI and a career .313 AVG. But he is only 27 years old and has a lot of playing left. Providing that he does not have injury problems, he should get his numbers.

Ichiro Suzuki- Another player that is in his 10th season. An exceptional defensive player that nobody tries to stretch extra bases on. He has 2099 Hits and has never had less then 206 Hits in a season. He also has 996 Runs. The knack on him is a lack of power. Only 85 HR's and 525 RBI. And at 36, how much longer can he do this? My guess is that he can play another 4 years which will get him close to 3,000 hits. Close enough for the HOF.

Johnny Damon- A couple of years ago, I would not have thought he was a possibility. But, after a couple of World Series rings and no drop off in production, why not? He is #94 in Hits @2474, #60 in Runs @ 1518, #76 in Doubles @ 465 and he has 1014 RBI. A couple of more seasons after this one and he should be at 3,000 hits which is the magic # I think he needs to get to, and I think he will.

That gets me to 15 players. Here is the remainder of who I was looking at. There no doubt will be a few that will certainly get talked about. A few of these may or may not get in.

Vladimir Guerrero- #42 in HR's @ 419 and #77 in RBI @1362. 2313 Hits, 1214 Runs and a career .322 avg. He is 35 though and has tailed off the last couple of years.

Jim Thome- #11 in HR's @569, #38 in RBI @1582, #69 in Runs @1496 and 2158 Hits. If he gets in, it will be because of the HR's for sure. But he was a defensive liability and DH'd a lot which will count against him. But, just when you think this guy is done, he comes back with another good year. He will be 40 this year, so I think it is safe to say he is close to the end.

Carlos Delgado- #30 in HR's @ 473 and #49 in RBI @1512. Just barely crossed 2,000 hits @ 2038 and has1241 Runs. But, he is without a team this year which might signal the end for him. He did not DH as much as I thought he did at only 184 games, but I think he might suffer the same as Fred McGriff, a sudden end to what was a very good career...... but just a little short of the HOF. Though I do think that McGriff should be in.

Jason Kendall- I bet that one shocked you more then just a little bit. Shocked me too until I started to look more closely to his numbers. His 2,132 Hits rank him high on the all time Hits list for catchers and he should be at #4 for Catchers by the end of the year. He also has 1002 Runs, 717 RBI and 181 steals while also being a very very good defensive catcher and a career .290 hitter. Not saying he is getting in, but his numbers are surprisingly good and he is very consistent. There are only 15 catchers in the HOF.

Omar Vizquel- #57 in Hits @2715, #92 in Runs @ 1382 and 910 RBI. He seems to be a "hanger on" at 43 years old and still playing, but he has accumulated some impressive numbers and is great defensively. Still, if he gets in, the Larkin and Trammell had better have gotten in as well.......just sayin.

Garrett Anderson- Yeah, I know, but look at his numbers. #90 in Hits @ 2513, #78 in RBI @ 1360, #39 in Doubles @ 518 and he scored 1.080 Runs. Those are not bad numbers. But I do think he will fall short.

Todd Helton- This was one of those players that I really dismissed early on, but his name kept coming up in my research so I put him on the list. Hits-2,173, RBI-1,211, Runs-1,239, HR's-326 and a .326 career AVG. But, he will be 37 later this year and he really needs 3,000 hits, I think.

Magglio Ordonez- It looked like he was done with a serious knee injury in 04-05, then again last year. This year, it looks like he is back again. If that is the case, he may have 2-3 more seasons at age 36, which means he still has a shot to make it. Hits-2031, HR's-284, Doubles- 408, Runs- 1,021 and RBI-1,179.

Andy Pettitte- #61 in wins @ 235, #53 in Strikeouts @ 2186 and a career ERA or 3.88. A great post season pitcher. I see him in as being similar to Jack Morris only left handed. Ok, maybe not as good as Morris, but close. I guess what I am saying is, if Morris gets in then it is a good sign for Pettitte. If Pettitte gets in and Morris doesn't, then I will give some consideration to blowing up the HOF...........just kidding, but seriously, Morris should get in before Pettitte.

Jamie Moyer- I can't believe I typed his name, but he will get some votes. At 47 he is still pitching. He is #39 in Strikeouts @ 2,374 and #40 in Wins @ 263. But, his 4.22 ERA will keep him out. Plus, come on, it's Jamie Frickin Moyer.

There are several other pitchers like, Roy Halladay and such, but Pitchers are so here today gone tomorrow because of arm problems that it is hard to put them in consideration until they get the numbers compiled.

So, that is what I could come up with. There may be some names I left off that you feel should be on here......see Jorge Posada, but he doesn't even have 1,000 RBI or Runs or even close to 2,000 hits. But let me know what actives you think will make it or if I left one off that you think should be on it.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Losing low-income students forces P-H-M to change Madison Elementary

Tribune Staff Writer
Story was first posted at 2:15 p.m. Saturday, May 22, 2010.

This fall, there no longer will be a school bus picking up 4- and 5-year-olds from Village Green Mobile Home Park and Arbors at Ironwood apartments in Mishawaka and taking them to preschool at Madison Elementary. In fact, there will no longer be a preschool.

The program that was piloted two years ago and offers the opportunity for young children in Penn-Harris-Madison's neediest schools to get a jump start on the skills they learn in kindergarten has been cut.

Ironically, the move has come because there are fewer economically disadvantaged students in the school district now than there were last fall.

As a result, federal Title I funds are being reduced by $92,000.

While it wasn't an easy decision for P-H-M administrators, it made sense to make the cuts at Madison, a school in which 26 percent of the students now receive free and reduced-priced lunches.

Back in the fall, that number exceeded 30 percent.

“This wasn't even on our radar,” said Nancy Nimtz, assistant superintendent for instruction, about losing some 4 percent to 7 percent of students who receive free or reduced-priced meals at P-H-M's six Title I elementaries.

Overall, since the beginning of this school year, the district has lost a total of 180 students. “Is that different than (this same point in) any other school year?” Nimtz asked. “I can't tell you. ... But I think it is. My gut tells me it is.”

What happened?

Jerry McKibben, P-H-M's Rock Hill, S.C.-based demographer who is originally from Mishawaka, has long predicted that the 10,000-plus student district would shrink by about 1,000 students within the next decade.

As for the loss this year of economically disadvantaged families, McKibben said it is really not a surprise.

A large subsidized housing community near Walt Disney Elementary School closed, he said. And another P-H-M elementary school draws kids from an area mobile home community, a type of housing that attracts a highly transient population, he said.

Many families, he said, are likely moving in with relatives. McKibben surmised about half of those who have left this school year likely live and attend schools in South Bend.

Nimtz said she hopes when the job market and economy stabilize, those students will return.
But McKibben isn't optimistic.

“Some will,” he said, “but the key issue is the availability of housing.” He doubts, he said, that all 180 students will return unless another large subsidized housing community opens in the district.

Barry Skalski, a Realtor with Prudential One Realty in Mishawaka and Edwardsburg, follows the local foreclosure market closely.

He approaches struggling homeowners and shares information with them about the possibility of selling their home as a short sale. That means, their bank agrees to take less for their home than it's mortgaged for.

“I've been doing short sales for three years,” he said, “and at first, people (who were being foreclosed upon) would say they were going to find a place to rent. But more and more, I've seen it become much more prevalent for people to combine households.”

Though there aren't foreclosure statistics available specifically on the P-H-M district, whose boundaries lie in Granger, Osceola and parts of Mishawaka and even Wakarusa, Skalski said “there are certainly more Granger ZIP codes popping up (in foreclosure listings).”

More impact

At Madison, full-day kindergarten will also be cut next school year.

That upsets parents like Tammy Yoder, who addressed the school board on the subject earlier this month during a regularly scheduled meeting at the Madison Township school.

Last week, she shared her frustrations further. “The preschool, I know, is one of those wonderful extra benefits,” she said, “but my main concern is full-day kindergarten. Having it taken away feels like a slap in the face.”

Several other parents also spoke in support of the programs. As to why Madison is taking the brunt of the cuts, Nimtz said of the district's six Title 1 schools, it has the lowest percentage of economically disadvantaged kids.

A KinderClub full-day program -- one in which there is a charge -- will be implemented at Madison next school year, Nimtz said.

And, she said, transfer requests to other P-H-M schools with full-day kindergarten will be honored for families with incoming kindergartners who desire a full-day program that's free.

Filling seats

In an effort to compensate for the lower enrollment that McKibben, the demographer, has predicted -- in addition to the seats vacated this school year -- P-H-M's board voted recently to open enrollment to students outside the district for the first time ever.

“We've been in the business of keeping students out,” Nimtz said. “Now, we're welcoming them in.”

As of last week, nearly 60 completed applications had already been received, Nimtz said.
McKibben predicted the district will initially attract 125 to 150 students whose families will pay tuition in the $800 to $1,000 annual range.

To be eligible for a transfer to P-H-M, students must be in good standing in their current school and have updated immunization records, among other criteria.

A lottery system will be used, Nimtz said, to admit students if interest is greater than the district is able to accommodate.

Asked about the notion that officials might pick the best and brightest candidates, Nimtz said it's simply not true.

“You may be a C-minus student in your school in good standing,” she said, “(and district officials would say) ‘bring it on.' ”

Staff writer Kim Kilbride:
(574) 247-7759

Friday, May 21, 2010

A Great Scene From The West Wing

I feel that the first 3 or 4 seasons of the TV show The West Wing, are some of the best that television has ever had to offer. During an episode during season 1, the President is faced with a decision about whether to allow the death sentence should be carried out. It is not a decision that he wants, he consults his staff for a way out and he decides to allow the sentence to be carried out.....even though he is against the death penalty.

That is the backdrop to the following scene. A scene that brings up all kinds of questions. What exactly are we asking from God? Are we really paying attention to the answers that God is providing us? When faced with tough decisions, are we going to stand up for what we feel is right? Do we have wise counsel in our lives and are we listening?

I hope you enjoy this scene as much as I do, it is worth the 6 minutes:

Friday, May 7, 2010

Will We Get TRUE Wall Street Reform??

If it looks like a skunk and it smells like a skunk, then chances are, it is going to be a skunk. And with that, I bring you Wall Street reform and a question. Will we get TRUE Wall Street reform?

Some of my Democrat friends might be saying "absolutely, we are leading the charge!" but I question that. Is the charge TRULY trying to reform, or is it just political posturing for the populist idea of Wall Street reform? I think it is the later. I find it hard to believe that we will get TRUE reform when the people that are writing the reform have their hands in the pockets of the ones that they are trying to reform/regulate.

President Obama is leading the charge right now, but according to my calculations from data pulled from The Center For Responsive Politics, our President raked in over $24 million from Wall Street during his bid for President. I question if he is truly going to bite the hand that fed him, or if he will just kind of nibble at that hand just a little bit.

Some people may point out that it is not the President that will be writing the bill for reform. This is true. It is the Senate Banking committee that will be doing that. Chaired by Senator Dodd (D-CT) who raked in $2.5 million last year from Wall Street. In all, the Senate Banking committee pulled in over $29 million last year from Wall Street contributions. The Senate Banking Committee is made up of 13 Democrats and 10 Republicans, so both parties are getting their fair take on this one.

Still thinking that this "reform" is going to be TRUE reform?

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) collected just shy of $1.7 million last year. Dick Durbin (D-IL), Senate Majority Whip, brought in $1.1 million.

It looks like I am just picking on the Dem's, so let's take a look at those right wing conservatives, shall we?

Rudy Giuliani, during his presidential nomination run took in $8.6 million. Mitt Romney, took in $8.7 million. John McCain, took in over $10 million during his run for President which doesn't sound like a lot compared to Obama, but then again he raised less then 1/2 of what Obama did during the campaign. How about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)? He took in $2.45 million. House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) took in $309,540 and minority whip Eric Cantor (R-VA) took in $472,900. The last 2 being in the House of Representatives, will always take in less then a Senator in total campaign contributions.

Right about now, my Tea Bagger friends may be thinking "This is what we are against, glad you are joining us". Not so fast I say. Current candidate Marko Rubio (R-FL) $348,976 and still counting. And Mr. "My name is Scott Brown and I drive a truck" pulled in $717,817 during his campaign. Of course, the Tea Baggers are now calling themselves "Constitutional Conservatives" which I get a kick out of because the only Constitutional Rights they seem to be concerned with are their own, not those rights of other people. But that is a whole other topic in itself. So, no, I would never affiliate myself with the Tea Baggers or Constitutional Conservatives or whatever they are calling themselves this week.

From 1998 thru 2008, Wall Street contributed $1.25 Billion in political contributions and another $3.4 Billion on lobbyists. Of that money, 55% went to Republicans and 45% to the Dem's. In 2008, just over 50% went to the Dem's which was the first time in several years that had happened. In the 1st quarter of 2009, 76% of the Wall Street contributions went to Democrats. By the 4th quarter, 73% was going to the Republicans.

I think that we will get some kind of reform passed, but nothing with any kind of real teeth to it. What would be nice is if these politicians decided to give the money back to Wall Street or at least started to decline it. At that point, I would be more inclined to believe in some reform. But just last week, Chris Matthews had a couple of elected officials on his show Hardball and asked them straight up to give the money back. Both the Republican and Democrat politely declined as the sweat was rolling down their foreheads.

Starting to smell that skunk yet? I sure do.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Thank You Ernie Harwell

Every once in awhile, someone that you never meet has a drastic influence in your life. For me, one of those people was Ernie Harwell, who passed away today from cancer at the age of 92.

Growing up was rough in my house. Often, I wonder how I was able to get to where I am today. Not that I am anybody of great significance, because I am not. But the fact that I never wound up an alcoholic like many of my relatives or a drug abuser like other relatives is a miracle. In a big way, Baseball was the main thing that always kept me away from trouble. And Ernie Harwell was a huge part of why I was attracted to baseball. Without a doubt, he helped shape who I am today.

Ernie was the legendary broadcaster for my favorite team, the Detroit Tigers. Back then, there was no XM radio or cable TV to get the ball games, there was only AM radio. I remember running antenna wire up onto the roof of my house just to get a static broadcast of Ernie giving vivid descriptions of what he was watching. His calls of "LLLoooooong Gone" on home run calls will always be remembered as will his "Stood There Like The House On The Side Of Road" when someone was called out on strikes. When someone hit a foul ball he would say "Someone From Niles Michigan is taking that one home" or whatever city he chose to say. As a kid, never having gone to a Major League game at the time, I was fascinated at how he could know that the person in the stands catching that foul ball was from the city that he announced. Of course later I figured out he was just making it up as he went, but I still enjoyed hearing it and waiting to see if he would say Niles which was where I lived.

In 1948, Ernie became the only broadcaster in baseball history to be traded for a player when he was traded to the Brooklyn Dodgers for Catcher Cliff Dapper. A few years later in 1951 he was broadcasting for the New York Giants for Bobby Thompson's "Shot Heard Round The World" during the National League Pennant Playoff Game for NBC. In 1960, Ernie became the "Voice" of my beloved Tigers until his forced retirement in 1991. Fans across Michigan revolted and protested. The decision to force Ernie out was initially blamed on the radio station WJR. Later, it was found that Tigers team President Bo Schembechler and team owner Tom Monaghan were actually responsible. Bo left his position at the end of the 92 season when Monaghan sold the team to Mike Ilitch. One of the first things Ilitch did was to bring Harwell back to the Tigers where he belonged. Ernie remained broadcasting with the Tigers until HE decided to retire on September 29, 2002. After his retirement, Ernie would fill in from time to time doing games for the Tigers or on ESPN. He made a special comeback when Detroit made the post season in 2006. Unfortunately, the Tigers lost the World Series to the St. Louis Cardinals that year.

A devout Christian, Ernie would recite a verse from the Song of Solomon each spring training before the beginning of the first game: "For, Lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come; and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land."
In July of 2009, Ernie was diagnosed with bile duct cancer and was only given a few months to live.

“I’m ready to face what comes,” he said at the time. “Whether it’s a long time or a short time is all right with me because it’s up to my Lord and savior.”

Thank you Ernie Harwell, I know that I am just one of many many people that you had this effect on. The streets in heaven are rejoicing tonight, may you rest in peace.

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