General Sports: May 8

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-The Pistons fired head coach Stan Van Gundy after a few mediocre seasons with the team. Granted, the Pistons were a shitshow before SVG got there, but they haven’t been able to get above “contending for the 8 seed” territory, which is about the worst place you can be in today’s NBA (not good enough to contend for a title, not bad enough to get a top Draft pick, which tends to be franchise-altering nowadays). The Pistons made the playoffs once in his 4-year tenure but failed to win a playoff series. It wouldn’t shock me to see SVG land another job sometime in the near future, as his resume speaks for itself (led the Orlando Magic to their only NBA Finals appearance back in 2009) and he certainly won’t be the last NBA head coach to get his walking papers as the offseason moves along in these coming weeks.

-The San Francisco Giants continue to get ravaged by the injury bug as this time it has hit Johnny Cueto. Cueto suffered a sprained elbow and will miss the next 6-8 weeks. This couldn’t come at a worse time for the Giants as they’re one of the hottest teams in baseball at the moment, having won 13 of their last 18 games entering Monday night (this is being written before the conclusion of their tilt with the Phillies). Cueto was bouncing back in a MAJOR way this season. After having an ERA well over 4 last season, Cueto was pacing the Majors in that category at 0.84 and was pitching some of the best baseball of his life, which is saying something considering the run of success he had with the Reds in one of the most hitter-friendly ballparks in the game. It’s a tough blow for the Giants, who are looking to try and make the playoffs and considering how good the Diamondbacks and Rockies have been looking of late, that task seems to be made even tougher without Cueto for up to 2 months.

-The Carolina Panthers are signing former Broncos runningback CJ Anderson to a 1-year deal. After releasing Jonathan Stewart in the offseason, I was surprised the Panthers didn’t get another bigger runningback to shoulder the bulk of the carries in the Draft so that Christian McCaffrey can continue to do scat back stuff. Anderson isn’t a flashy player by any means but he’s consistently solid and was the Broncos’ #1 back when they beat the Panthers in Super Bowl L. He’s also a very similar style of player to the departed Stewart and is 4 years younger so one can argue it’s an improvement on multiple fronts.

-The Saints are releasing tight end Coby Fleener after 2 years of a 5 year deal. Fleener was a pretty big disappointment in New Orleans as he and Drew Brees never really developed the connection you would’ve expected given how much Brees liked to target Jimmy Graham in the past. However Fleener managed just 72 catches for 826 yards and 5 TD’s over his 2 years with the team. The Saints were reportedly interested in bringing back Graham, but he signed with the Packers instead, leading many to speculate the Saints had tight end as a high priority. Then they traded up 13 spots in the Draft, including giving up next year’s first round pick, to select UTSA’s Marcus Davenport and didn’t draft any tight ends, making this release a little more surprising to me. As of right now, the tight end roster in New Orleans features a 37 year-old Ben Watson, Michael Hoomanawanui, and Josh Hill of note. Watson has had success in this offense in the past so perhaps that’s the reason why they weren’t in any hurry to get another tight end and were comfortable in letting Fleener walk.

-I didn’t blog about this when it happened due to my being in my finals-related hiatus, but on April 20, White Sox reliever Danny Farquhar suffered a brain aneurysm and collapsed in the dugout during the game. He had to be rushed to the hospital with this affliction that has taken so many lives. Luckily, Farquhar survived and he was finally able to return home yesterday for the first time. Hopefully Farquhar is able to make a full recovery and can continue to create a positive impact on this world, whether that be on the baseball diamond or in other ventures.

-So Vlad Guerrero Jr continues to be the most talked-about minor leaguer in the game today. Here’s something from a segment he was doing with Carlos Pena for MLB Network.

I don’t think the average person quite understands just how impressive this is. A lot of the power behind hitting a home run comes from how fast the pitch is being thrown. Normally guys don’t hit the ball very far off the tee because it’s just sitting still. Well Guerrero Jr is 19 years old and he’s putting a still baseball into the right field seats. This kid is going to be something special and if he’s just half of what his father was, the Blue Jays will have a guy to build around for the next 10 years.

That’s going to do it for this edition of General Sports. Let me know what you think of the topics discussed in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

General Sports: March 29

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-Opening Day is today. The most wonderful time of the year. First game is Marlins-Cubs at 12:40 so of course I won’t get to watch any of it because I have class at 1:00 and since I’m in Indiana, I can’t stream it on the MLB At Bat app because I’m in the Chicago market so I’ll get blacked out. Bullshit. I’ll also only able to get to watch the first few innings of the Red Sox-Rays game at 4 because I have a class at 5:30 and my professor banned technology. It’s a 2.5 hour class. Granted, it’s a movie class and we’ll be talking about Donnie Darko, which I saw for the first time on Tuesday (really good, kind of messes with your head a little bit), so it won’t be the worst thing in the world. My mind is just going to be elsewhere because I could be watching baseball instead.

-Former NFL linebacker Dave Wyman (no relation) called the NFL’s new tackling rule change “a fucking mess” and that the NFL “wants to self-destruct.” Oh those Wymans, always causing trouble. In truth I never knew there was ever a Wyman in the NFL. I knew there was a pitcher named Frank Wyman who pitched in the 1800’s and had an ERA over 6, and a hockey player named James Wyman (not to be confused with a far more handsome blogger), but otherwise we Wymans aren’t particularly talented athletes.

-I guess you want my opinion on the new rule change. It’s basically the targeting rule in college football, which I think is an unmitigated disaster even though I get what they’re going for. It’s so poorly called anyway because you can still get called for targeting even if the player you’re tackling lowers himself into you through the force of gravity. Players could be ejected depending on the severity of the hit, which is another “case-by-case” situation and there’s no way to determine what’s a vicious hit and what isn’t. I guess malicious intent? Either way, I get not wanting players to use their helmets as weapons, but you’re making it harder to play defense. Stop it.

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-The Giants reportedly are looking for at least 2 first rounders for ODell Beckham Jr, which sounds reasonable enough. With a guy whose talent is as insane as Beckham’s, he should command a king’s ransom. Honestly, he’s so good that I don’t mind the diva personality. From what I understand, he’s not disruptive with teammates, it’s just the media that really has a problem with his antics (the alleged cocaine notwithstanding). If I’m a team like the Browns, with a plethora of draft capital, I’d at least make a call and get a feel for what kind of deal they’d be willing to make.

-Ndamukong Suh signed with the Rams and holy shit is that defense terrifying. Not only do they have the cornerback duo of Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, but now the interior of their defensive line is reigning Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald and Suh with a defensive genius in Wade Phillips running things. On paper, the NFC West looks to be the Rams’ to lose, especially now that the Seahawks have blown up their defense, the 49ers are still a few pieces away, and the Cardinals are trending towards an overhaul. Now they just need some receivers for Jared Goff (though they did just fine with the okay group they had last year).

-The baseball season hasn’t even begun yet and we already have a postponement, ruining the “every team opens on the same day” thing. It’s expected to rain heavily in Cincinnati, postponing Reds-Nationals. The game will be postponed to 4:10 on Friday, which would have been an off day for both teams and they will conduct the usual Opening Day festivities. Shame. Was really looking forward to every team starting at the same time even though there was no chance I was going to watch every game, as much as I would’ve liked to.

-Vladimir Guerrero Jr hit a walkoff home run in his dad’s old stomping grounds at Olympic Stadium in Montreal while wearing his dad’s number 27. I’m going to let the video do the rest of the talking.

-Johnny Manziel is meeting with several NFL teams because apparently he looks really good right now. I haven’t seen any of the footage of him throwing at pro days, but reports are that he looks even better now than he did coming out of college. Hell, the Patriots of all teams met with him. Tom Brady’s heir apparent, perhaps? I am rooting for Manziel on his attempted comeback because I do feel like he’s turned a new leaf and has learned from the mistakes he made at Texas A&M and with the Browns.

-Poor Salvador Perez. Gets off the flight to Kansas City and tears his MCL while carrying luggage. He’s estimated to be out 4-6 weeks, which isn’t as bad as you might think considering he tore a ligament, but the impact is greater for him since he’s a catcher and the MCL is located in the knee. He’ll be in a crouch at all times so that won’t be doing the MCL any favors. Theoretically this will impact him more than, say, a left fielder. Just a tough break for the guy right before Opening Day.

-And lastly, the rules committee has stated that kickoffs will be at risk of being removed if not made safer. STOP FUCKING WITH FOOTBALL!!!!!

That’s going to do it for this edition of General Sports. Let me know what you think of any of the topics I discussed in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.

Some Stories I Have With Each Member of the 2018 Baseball Hall of Fame Class

Before I get into this blog, I just wanted to say that nothing is harsh enough for Larry Nassar. I will get into the ramifications a little more at a later date as it pertains to Michigan State when more information becomes public. But as it stands right now, Michigan State could be facing charges in a similar fashion to Penn State in the Jerry Sandusky case. Not good.

Now on to the more positive stuff, 6 men will be enshrined in Cooperstown, New York on July 29. 2 from the Veteran’s Committee and 4 from the Baseball Writer’s Association. From the Veteran’s Committee we have Jack Morris and Alan Trammell. From the BBWA, we have Chipper Jones, Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome, and Trevor Hoffman. I won’t get too deep into their backgrounds and resumes because I already did a month or so ago. But I do have some memories of each one. This will qualify as both a baseball blog and a personal story because I actually do have some kind of attachment to each.

I’ll start with Chipper Jones, who made the class of 2018 with 97.2% of the vote. I never got a chance to see him play live in a traditional MLB game, however I did get a chance to see him play in a Spring Training game back in 2011. My high school baseball team took a trip to Disney’s Wide World of Sports for our own Spring Training and the Atlanta Braves’ facility was a part of this complex, so one night a bunch of us went to a Braves-Nationals game. That was the one time I got to see Chipper play. The Braves won the game 7-6, but nearly blew a 6-0 lead after a couple innings. I believe Jason Heyward, Freddie Freeman, and Dan Uggla homered. Now that I think about it, I know Heyward did, not sure about the others. I’m not even sure if Jones played, to be fair, because I can’t find any boxscores of that game. Step up your Spring Training databases MLB!

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Next up is Vladimir Guerrero, who got in with 92.9% of the vote. I remember the first time I saw Vlad play was in 2006 when he was a member of the Angels. This was quite frankly the best game I think I’ve ever attended. The Red Sox came back from down 6-3 in the bottom of the 8th and won 7-6 in 11 innings on a David Ortiz single up the middle to drive in Alex Gonzalez from second with two outs. However Vlad was NOT a factor in this game at all. He had two at bats before he left the game with a bad back. He saw six pitches. He struck out twice. Luckily for Vlad, I knew what he was capable of going into this game so it didn’t tarnish my opinion of him, it more hyped up Josh Beckett for me, who was Boston’s starting pitcher that day. I believe I saw Vlad play again when he was with the Rangers in 2010, I’ll have to fact check that one. Just fact checked it, I did. Vlad went 3-5 with an RBI and 2 runs scored in a 7-2 Rangers win. Now that I think about it, I think that was the game I went to where Tim Wakefield got yanked before finishing the third inning. His knuckleball was just not working. In fact, another thing I remember from that is the very next day, Bengie Molina hit for the cycle. What a world we lived in back in 2010. But yeah, I got to see Vlad play twice. First time he was awful, second time he was really good. But a Hall of Fame career nonetheless.

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Next we have Jim Thome, who made the Hall of Fame with 89.8% of the vote and became the third first baseman ever to reach the Hall of Fame on his first try. It’s actually a funny story about how Thome became my favorite non-Red Sox player. I was in first grade and a friend of mine had brought in this little booklet with a bunch of baseball activities for kids our age. One of these was a word search with players’ names. I noticed that one player was named Jim and I immediately grew attached to him, thinking “wow, that’s awesome!” A few weeks later I was at another friend’s house and he had the Red Sox game on. The Sox were playing the Phillies in Interleague action and I saw the screen show a graphic of the Phillies first baseman being Jim Thome. I thought to myself, “wow! That’s the guy from the word search!” Thome had been my favorite ever since that day. I only got to see him play once and that was back in 2008 when he was a member of the White Sox. I was in Florida with my grandparents and they took me to a game at Tropicana Field. Thome was hitting third that game and he homered off of Rays starter Edwin Jackson in his first at bat as the White Sox beat the eventual American League champions 6-0. I actually have another funny story regarding this game that doesn’t relate to Thome. So my grandpa LOVES to spoil me and he got us some PRIME tickets to this game. We were sitting about three rows back from the on deck circle right by the Rays dugout. Well while I was sitting there, I looked over to the Rays dugout and there’s Johnny Gomes right at the edge fixing up his gear. Earlier that day, my brother had told me to get him an autograph, kind of out of jest. But now I had an opportunity to actually get one. My grandpa gave me a pad of paper and a pen and I walked over towards the dugout and yelled “Johnny!” Instinctively, Johnny looked up and had this deer-in-the-headlights look of “oh shit, I shouldn’t have reacted to that.” I probably had the look of “oh shit, he looked up,” so as soon as I got the chance, I held out my pad of paper and said “can you sign this?” He said no but then immediately after the Rays took the field. I didn’t get an autograph, but I was such a big baseball fan/nerd that the fact that I had an interaction with Johnny Gomes was more than enough for me. My dad thinks he’s an asshole for not taking two seconds out of his day to sign a 12 year-old kid’s pad of paper, but I didn’t care at the time and I don’t care now. But yeah, that’s my Jim Thome story.

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Finally we have Trevor Hoffman. In 2016, I did a volunteership with Major League Baseball and helped move the DJ’s stage for the Home Run Derby. A benefit of this was I had free access to MLB’s fan fest for each day they were holding it. I unfortunately missed out on Trevor Hoffman twice. The first time was for getting his autograph, as he was doing a signing when I arrived. While I was in line, his hour was up and I missed my opportunity for him. However, I learned that next up was Steve Garvey, so I couldn’t complain. Here’s a picture of me getting the 1974 NL MVP’s autograph.

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The next day I actually got that hat I was wearing signed by Fred Lynn. It’s smudged now, but I know whose it is and I never had any intention of selling it. But after I got Garvey’s autograph, I wandered around the San Diego Convention Center and saw that Hoffman was giving pitching lessons. I immediately hopped in line, but once again, the line was too long and his hour was up. So I just watched him give lessons to other people, which was totally fine by me.

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I don’t have any stories about Trammell or Morris except that my mom loved both of them, as she’s from Canton, Michigan and grew up a big Tigers fan, though I’m pretty sure Lou Whitaker was her favorite. That’s going to do it for this blog, congratulations to the inductees. I’m a little peeved that Edgar Martinez and Curt Schilling got snubbed once again, but Martinez got 70.4% of the vote meaning he’s pretty much a lock for 2019. Schilling, I’m not as sure. Let me know what you think of the balloting results in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10 and contribute to my Patreon.

MLB Hall of Fame Ballot Released

Yes, I know, they don’t announce the MLB Hall of Fame class of 2018 until January, but the finalists were announced and I couldn’t help myself. Plus, I wanted material to write about. Here is the list of candidates:

Barry Bonds

Roger Clemens

Vladimir Guerrero

Trevor Hoffman

Jeff Kent

Edgar Martinez

Fred McGriff

Mike Mussina

Manny Ramirez

Curt Schilling

Gary Sheffield

Sammy Sosa

Billy Wagner

Larry Walker

Chris Carpenter

Johnny Damon

Livan Hernandez

Oliver Hudson

Aubrey Huff

Jason Isringhausen

Andruw Jones

Chipper Jones

Carlos Lee

Brad Lidge

Hideki Matsui

Kevin Millwood

Jamie Moyer

Scott Rolen

Johan Santana

Jim Thome

Omar Vizquel

Kerry Wood

Carlos Zambrano

I’m going to discuss which guys I think should get in. I’m really hesitant to pick guys who were linked to PED’s. I know that Ivan Rodriguez was named in the Mitchell Report and still got in last year, so it’s only a matter of time before guys like Bonds and Clemens get in. But I really don’t want to vote for one. I get the argument in favor of putting known PED users in, I really do, but I’m still uncomfortable with voting for one. If they get in, fine, the rest of baseball feels differently than I do (which could probably be an entire blog on its own. Maybe around election time), but I won’t vote them in. So sorry Barry and Roger, but you don’t have my vote. Here’s a tissue.

My other rules for who gets in are pretty simple: be one of the greats. I don’t care which ballot you’re on, if you’re a Hall of Famer, you’re a Hall of Famer in my book. There are some voters who are of the belief of “well Joe DiMaggio only got in on the third ballot, this guy can’t be first ballot because DiMaggio wasn’t.” That’s a load of shit. First of all, Joltin’ Joe should’ve been first ballot. Secondly, as I mentioned just seconds ago, if you’re a Hall of Famer, you’re a Hall of Famer. Plain as that. Nobody usually remembers which ballot you got in on anyway, just that you got in. So with that, let’s look at who I would vote for, with holdovers going first and newcomers going second.

Vladimir Guerrero

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photo credit: Sports Illustrated

Postion: Right Field

Teams: Montreal Expos, Anaheim Angels, Texas Rangers, Baltimore Orioles

Accomplishments: 2004 AL MVP, 9-time All Star, 449 Home Runs, Career .318 hitter, Career WAR: 59.3

Vladdy was one of the greatest pure hitters of his generation. It’s a shame he never won a World Series, though he at least got to play in one in 2010 with the Texas Rangers. Guerrero was unique in that it didn’t matter where the pitch was, he could get a hit off of it. The song “Head-Shoulders-Knees-And-Toes” is perfectly applicable to Vlad’s personal strike zone. Most guys who swung the way Guerrero did would be out of the Majors faster than they could blink, but he hit .318 for 16 years. In fact, he never hit below .290 at any point in his career (and that was his final season). His 2002 season, despite not winning the MVP, was one of the greatest seasons of the Steroid Era and he didn’t need PED’s to do it. He hit 39 home runs, stole 40 bases, hit .336, drove in 111 runs, collected 206 hits, and played in 161 games. Yet somehow he only finished fourth for MVP that year. Maybe it was because he played for the Expos. His son, Vlad Jr, is one of the top prospects in all of baseball in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.

Trevor Hoffman

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photo credit: The Mighty 1090

Position: Closing Pitcher

Teams: Florida Marlins, San Diego Padres, Milwaukee Brewers

Accomplishments: 601 Saves (was the all-time leader when he retired, has since been passed by Mariano Rivera), career 2.87 ERA, 7-time All Star, Career WAR: 28.0

Trevor Hoffman is amongst the greatest closers of all time, as evidenced by being the first man to ever reach 600 saves. A big reason why Rivera got a lot of the fame and Hoffman didn’t was Hoffman spent nearly all of his career with the lowly Padres while Rivera was dominating with the Yankees. I wouldn’t be surprised if Hoffman doesn’t get in on this ballot, as a lot of voters are hesitant to vote in a guy whose job was to pitch one inning every other game or so. But Hoffman was the best to ever do it in the National League and that shouldn’t be overlooked.

Edgar Martinez

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photo credit: Seattle Times

Position: Designated Hitter

Team: Seattle Mariners

Accomplishments: Career .312 hitter, 309 home runs, 1261 RBI, 7-time All Star, drove in 145 RBI during the 2000 season at the age of 37, made the DH position what it is today, Career WAR: 68.3

This is one of the most controversial members of the ballot because Martinez was a career DH, he never played the field. I think Martinez should get in based simply on the fact that he was a revolutionary. He made the DH position what it is today. There is no David Ortiz, no Victor Martinez, no Nelson Cruz without the contributions of Edgar Martinez. Also look at that career WAR. Martinez’s career was only two years longer than Guerrero’s and he was worth almost 10 wins more than the stud outfielder and that’s for a guy who never had any defense contribute to that. That’s how good a hitter he was.

Mike Mussina

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photo credit: Baltimore Sun

Position: Starting Pitcher

Teams: Baltimore Orioles, New York Yankees

Accomplishments: 270 wins (that stat is outdated today, but it means a little bit more during his era), 3.68 ERA (worth mentioning that for the bulk of his career, he had to face guys who were juiced on steroids, which likely inflated his ERA some), 2813 strikeouts, 5-time All Star, Career WAR: 82.7

The knock against Mike Mussina was that he was never truly dominant. He was just consistently good for 18 years. Mussina never won a title either, but damn was he close. He joined the Yankees in 2001, the year they lost to Arizona and just after their three-peat, and retired after 2008, the year before they beat the Phillies. Just shit luck for Moose. But consistency is a big part of what makes a great pitcher and you always knew what you were going to get with Mussina and he had a knack for staying healthy and pitching deep into games, as he had 11 seasons where he pitched 200 innings, including 9 in a row from 1995-2003. I honestly wouldn’t be surprised if Mussina doesn’t get in this year because of the fact that he never dominated, which is the baseline for a lot of voters (myself included, but I like to reward being able to trust guys. That’s why I’m leaning towards voting for Mark Buehrle when he becomes eligible)

Curt Schilling

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photo credit: The Daily Beast

Position: Starting Pitcher

Teams: Baltimore Orioles, Houston Astros, Philadelphia Phillies, Arizona Diamondbacks, Boston Red Sox

Accomplishments: 216 wins (see Mussina about my thoughts on pitching wins), 3116 strikeouts, 3-time World Series Champion, 2001 World Series Co-MVP with Hall of Famer Randy Johnson, Career ERA of 3.46, Career Playoff ERA of 2.23, 6-time All Star, Career WAR: 80.7

Quite frankly, with a resume like that, the only reason Curt Schilling isn’t in the Hall of Fame is because of his political beliefs. He is extremely right-winged and is very open about it and some of what he says can come off as hate speech (for example, his views on transgendered bathrooms and Islam got him fired from ESPN). But to keep him out of the Hall of Fame for that? That’s bullshit. You can’t keep a guy out of the Hall of Fame for what kind of person they are, no matter what your beliefs are. Ty Cobb was one of the biggest racists in the game and he was the first man ever inducted, so don’t give me that shit about his beliefs keeping him out. He was lights out in the playoffs and was one of the toughest pitchers on the planet. I will forever respect the Hell out of him for his performance in Game 6 of the 2004 ALCS, also known as the Bloody Sock game. If you don’t know what that is, shame on you. Schill gets my vote every time.

Chipper Jones

Chipper Jones

photo credit: Kansas.com

Position: Third Base

Team: Atlanta Braves

Accomplishments: 1999 NL MVP, 1995 World Series champion, 8-time All Star, 468 Home Runs, 1623 RBI, Career .303 hitter, 2008 batting champ by hitting .364 in 2008 at the age of 36, Career WAR: 85.0

Out of all the newcomers, Jones is my one lock to get in. The guy was the face of the Atlanta Braves for 18 years and was the key catalyst behind the Braves teams that won a division championship 13 years in a row. An average WAR in the Majors is 2.0. Chipper’s WAR never at any point in his career dipped below 2.3. In my opinion, he’s one of the ten best third basemen of all time.

Jim Thome

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photo credit: NPR

Position: First Baseman/Designated Hitter

Teams: Cleveland Indians, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago White Sox, Los Angeles Dodgers, Minnesota Twins, Baltimore Orioles

Accomplishments: 612 home runs, 1699 RBI, 5-time All Star, career .276 hitter, Career WAR: 72.9

Jim Thome was one of my favorites growing up. Now granted, it was mainly because we had the same first name and I pronounced his last name as how it’s spelled, not “toe-mee,” which is how it’s actually pronounced, but I still really liked the guy. It helped that he was also considered one of the nicest guys in the game (now yes, the Schilling argument works both ways, it shouldn’t matter what type of dude you are to be in the Hall of Fame unless you were a serial killer, but it’s part of his reputation). Being one of the greatest power hitters of your generation also helps. 612 home runs ranks 8th all time, though his 2548 strikeouts is the second most all time. What does bode well for him in that aspect is the man in first place is in the Hall of Fame (Reggie Jackson).

Just Missed: Jeff Kent, Andruw Jones, Scott Rolen, Billy Wagner

Honorable Mention: Pete Rose

The fact that Pete Rose still can’t get in as a player is just idiotic. All records show that he bet on his team to win, which I have no problem with because you’re not out there to sabotage your own team. Had he bet against his guys, I’d be totally cool with keeping him out. But you can’t have the all-time hits king not in the Hall when a guy who was named in the Mitchell Report got in. Those are my picks for the Hall of Fame, though I think only Vladimir Guerrero and Chipper Jones will get in this year. I think Bonds and Clemens will eventually get in, but like I said before, I wouldn’t vote for them. Do you like my picks? Do you disagree with my stance on steroids? Let me know in the comments section below or on Facebook or Twitter @jimwyman10.