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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

For Randy Johnson, Dominance didn’t come easy

“On the bright Sunday afternoon of March 18, 1984, Randy Johnson took the mound for the University of Southern California at Arizona State University’s Packard Stadium.

He was among the most interesting collection of sports figures ever assembled on a college baseball field.

The game featured two players who would break the major leagues’ single-season home run record (one still holds it). One would become an NFL linebacker and head coach, another would eventually be a major-league manager. Then there was a center fielder deemed the best player of all of them, a seeming Hall of Famer in waiting.

Oh, and the umpires included a Phoenix resident who would become the first (and still only) woman to rise to the ranks of Class AAA baseball, one notch below the big leagues.”

Plus ASU’s 4th outfielder, a kid named Mike Devereaux who was the only team-member not to vote the starting left fielder off the team, because he didn’t want to get his starting job that way.

ReggieThomasLives Posted: July 29, 2015 at 07:14 PM | 30 comment(s)
  Beats: arizona, asu, barry bonds, big unit, hall of fame, hof, randy johnson, usc

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Columbia Journalism Review: One of the best baseball reporters reflects on how coverage has changed

You gotta have Hearts.  All you really need is Hearts.

Tom Gage is a Detroit baseball writer who will be celebrated this month into the National Baseball Hall of Fame as the 2015 Spink Award winner, the highest honor in the field. ...Gage is due to give a speech this month during the lavish induction weekend in Cooperstown, New York.

Trouble is? He’s unemployed.

Gage:  We used to fly with the team, and now for the most part, you never fly with them, you’re never on the bus with them, and you don’t stay in the same hotels. It used to be that if you had an issue you wanted to discuss, you could talk it over on the plane. I played many a card game with (former Tigers manager) Sparky Anderson, and it was in those games of Hearts that I could see how quick his mind was. Nowadays, it’s very difficult to get close to the team.

It used to be that you didn’t have to rush out of the press box to write everything up. But now, with the internet, it’s not like you have a 6:30pm deadline. Your deadline is all the time. You can’t linger in the clubhouse or wait until after batting practice to speak with a player a second time. There’s less time to develop your sources, your relationships with players, and to just build trust.”

Gonfalon Bubble Posted: July 16, 2015 at 03:03 PM | 9 comment(s)
  Beats: hof, sportswriting, tom gage

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Hochman: Jim Bunning’s not-so-perfect day

But I draw the line on voting for the COBRA!

Jim Bunning spent the first weekend in December in San Diego, a member of a 16-man committee voting on Golden Era players to be inducted into Baseball’s Hall of Fame. Dick Allen needed 12 votes. He got 11.

“I felt useless,” Bunning seethed the other day, his voice crackling with anger. “It was the most disappointing 3 days I’ve ever spent in my life!”

...Let’s back up. The voters, who included baseball writers, gathered in San Diego. Did they meet informally that night, have dinner together, drink a couple of beers together, swap stories that started, “Back in the day”?

“No,” Bunning said. “When we arrived we got a packet that listed the nine players, their achievements, their bios. There was one executive on the list, Bob Howsam. I felt he hadn’t been involved in major league baseball long enough. The nine players, each of them had done enough to be in the Hall of Fame. We gathered in a room that could hold 50. The 16 of us sat at a big, oblong table.

“Bob Watson didn’t make it. They never told us why. If he’d been there, it might have made a difference for two guys, Allen and Tony Oliva, who also got 11 votes. Dave Dombrowski replaced him. He’s the general manager in Detroit. Al Kaline was already on the committee, so that gave Detroit two voters. I thought about that.”

Let the record show that Phillies then-interim president Pat Gillick was on the voter panel. Didn’t that give the Phillies two voters? “I’m not sure Pat thought of himself as a Phillies guy,” Bunning said. “He just sat there, saying nothing.

“I spoke up for Maury Wills, because he changed the game with his speed. I looked at the other Hall of Famers in the room and asked them if they had changed the game.

“The writers said nothing. I wondered if Allen’s relationships with the writers had hurt him. I went 4 years in Detroit, hardly communicating. And then I decided to be more accessible.

“Why are there writers voting? The writers pick the 10 names on the list. I knew one of them, Phil Pepe [of the New York Daily News]. He was one of the New York writers who turned in blank ballots that one year [1988]. About seven guys from New York and two from Baltimore.

“Maybe they felt no one deserved to get in that year. Willie Stargell got in with about 76 percent of the votes. If they hadn’t sent in those blank ballots, Stargell would have gotten about 80 percent and I’d have gotten in with about 76 percent.

...“Guys were angry after the voting was announced. I stuck around for the press conference, but nobody asked me a question. The questions went to the writers.

“To me, it was a wasted weekend. We were there to pick someone for the Hall of Fame. We didn’t accomplish anything. OK, maybe Allen and Oliva will be at the top of the list in 3 years when they come up again.

“But who will be on the committee of voters? What will the rules be? Things have to change!”

Repoz Posted: February 04, 2015 at 06:17 AM | 12 comment(s)
  Beats: hof

 

 

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