MLBRT 1/14… Griffey & Piazza & 2017 Hall thoughts

MLBRT use this 7Poundbag1a


What else could the crew be talking about this week except… Griffey and Piazza… and some reflections on their careers and where they rate among the Hall of Fame players at their respective psotions.

Then the crew gives some thoughts on a few of the near misses on the 2016 ballot and what their chances might be in 2017.

So, off we go with this week’s Roundtable discussion…


1) Now that The Kid… aka Ken Griffey Jr…. is in the Hall…a lot of folks are reminiscing about his career. What is your favorite Ken Griffey Jr. moment? griffey swing

Archie1-300x277Archie: I can honestly say I really don’t have one.

I never got to see him play all that much due to being overseas in the Army most of his career for one and two, he stayed on west coast for most of his career and their games were too late at night to watch.

His time in Cincy he spent many days on Injured list. While he was there for nine seasons, he only averaged 100 games per year there.

IF I had to measure a “favorite” memory it would have to be his sweet swing. The man definitely had one of the purest swings ever.

Dan 3Dan: Ken Griffey Jr had a great season, and, I can remember playing his video game for Nintendo 64 back when I was in elementary school. He’s had a terrific career and I’d like to congratulate him and making the Hall of Fame.

Griffey Sr & Jr hit back-to-back homeruns (1990)
Griffey Sr & Jr hit back-to-back homeruns (1990)

Now, I’m only 21-years-old so I don’t have the best memory of big moments from his career but I have watched a lot of older games and I think a couple top moments would be him playing with his father, hitting milestone 500 & 600 career home runs and his final game as a player.

In my opinion, nothing can top playing with your dad in a major league game. He’s the one who taught you how to play, played catch with you. Watched your games growing up. And now you get to play with him? I can’t imagine how great of a feeling that must of been for Griffey Jr. That’s the top moment.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: It has to be the Home Run Derby of 1994 in Pittsburgh, but, the year before was a good derby starring Jr. as well.

Griffey won 2 HR Derbies.... Pittsburgh '94; Denver '98 & Boston '99
Griffey won 3 HR Derbies…. Pittsburgh ’94; Denver ’98 & Boston ’99

However, it felt like that night in Pittsburgh was Junior’s show, and his show alone. His bombs at Three Rivers Stadium stood out to 12 year old me at the time. 

Me (2)Joe: I don’t remember exactly when this happened but I do remember it and it always impressed me to no end and stayed in my memory banks… 

Anyway… I had been reading how Griffey wasn’t all that great of a centerfielder and I thought “humph.” But, since I had never really seen him play all that much I really had no opinion. Until a few days later…

I’m watching a game… NY Yanks and Seattle… and early on somebody on the Yanks jacks one to center… “Sure hit”, I says… but Griffey runs it down. Hmmm…

And, I think about that piece I read.

Ken Griffey Jr. It’s later in the game… mid innings… and another Yankee puts some lumber to the ball… he (Griffey) ain’t getting that one I thinks… sure as hell the Kid tracks it down… leaping catch; almost against the wall.

Wow! And, I think about that piece I read.

Late in the game, now, and, another Yankee player really slams one to very deep center… it isn’t going out but it’s gotta be a sure double or triple off the wall… no one could ever get this ball…

Yep… Griffey runs it down and makes an unbelievable fantastical running leaping catch. Seriously, I am totally amazed by the catch.

Pandemonium breaks out as Ken Griffey Jr. slides to score the winning run vs. the Yankees in 1995 ALDS
Pandemonium breaks out as Ken Griffey Jr. slides to score the winning run vs. the Yankees in 1995 ALDS

I shout our loud… holy shit! And, then think… that asshole who wrote that piece about Griffey didn’t know shit about what he was talking about.

From that day on, I became an admirer of the way this kid played the game.

Steve-01-288x300Steve: My favorite moment of Griffey is when he scored the winning run against the Yankees in the 1995 ALDS.

He showed his true hustle and made a perfect slide into home to help the Mariners advance in comeback fashion to the ALCS for the first time in their history.

2) Ken Griffey Jr. missed being a unanimous selection to the Baseball Hall of Fame by three votes. What are your feelings on the three voters who didn’t vote for Junior and do you think anyone will ever be a unanimous electee?  

Archie1-300x277Archie: Idiots.

Actually, I feel they did it on purpose to draw attention to themselves. I am sure that somewhere in the back of their little media minds they thought “IF I am the only one that does NOT vote for him then I will sell a ton of paper/news/columns/etc. explaining why I didn’t”. Plain and simple only reason. 

Dan 3Dan: I think that’s wrong of them.

What the BBWAA should require is an explanation on why they voted no. He fits every single criteria of Hall of Fame worthy. To vote no just so he doesn’t receive unanimous vote is foul. It makes me think that, with how these voters act, nobody will get in via unanimous unless it’s another Baby Ruth or Lou Gehrig or Ted Williams or Ty Cobb that comes through the doors.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: Those voters are fools. Griffey was a lock to make the Hall and he should have gone in unanimously. Griffey 3

Griffey hit 630 home runs and wasn’t tainted with steroid allegations. If, it wasn’t for the injuries he suffered towards the end of his career, who knows where he would have ended up on the All-Time list. In my opinion, he would have ended his career as the home run leader if it wasn’t for those injuries that saw him miss huge chunks of time towards the end of his career. 

Me (2)Joe: Yeah, I know and heard all the arguments… if Ruth, and his ilk, didn’t get into the Hall unanimously then no one should. Well, that’s just a lot of hooey. Just because there were idiots back in the day who couldn’t figure out someone like the Babe was a sure fire pick to get into the Hall doesn’t mean that has to be continued down the line unto perpetuity.

Junior was a first ballot sure fire Hall of Famer and should have been elected to the Hall unanimously.

I’ll be nice… those three idiots were jackasses.

Steve-01-288x300Steve: I think that the three who kept Griffey off the ballot needs to be taken out back and shot.

That being said, I seriously did not think Griffey would have broken the record for highest percentage. I was thinking 97% or so. People have their reasons for not voting for a certain player, some say that if Ruth, Gehrig, Cobb, Aaron, just to name a few cannot get in unanimously, then no one should. I don’t think that will change in my lifetime. I don’t think anyone gets in with 100 percent of the vote.

3) One more Griffey question… Was he the best all around centerfielder ever?

Archie1-300x277Archie: Debatable. Did you forget about a guy named Mays? Two MVPs, ROY, 20 out of 22 seasons as an All Star?

I would have to still tip the scale in Mays’ favor on that one

Dan 3Dan: While I think Ken Griffey Jr was a great player and is one of the top center fielders of all-time, I don’t believe he is the best.1994-Upper-Deck-Baseball-Autographs-Mickey-Mantle-and-Ken-Griffey-Jr

He had a tremendous career and was a lock for the Hall of Fame, but he wasn’t better than Mickey Mantle who had won a Triple Crown but that’s up for debate.

I also think Ty Cobb & Willie Mays have him beat and will keep the number 1 & 2 positions locked down.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: In my mind he was, but, I would more than understand if people said Willie Mays.

Clearly, I was too young to see Mays play, but, I saw Junior’s career and that bias would allow me to say that Ken Griffey Jr. was the best centerfielder of all time and probably the best player of my generation.

Me (2)Joe: Mickey, Willie & the DukeI’m only going to judge him against the players I saw play… and remember I grew up in the 1950’s/1960’s and in the NY metro region and saw Mickey, Willie and a little bit of the Duke…

Plus, I saw Kirby Puckett, Andre Dawson and Richie Ashburn play, too. I’ll include Joe DiMaggio even though I never really saw him play but I heard enough about him from my relatives, and, other “old guys” that I was around, who did see him play. 

Willie making The Catch
Willie making The Catch

I place Ken Griffey, Jr. in back of Willie and DiMag but in front of Mickey (just barely) and the others.

Steve-01-288x300Steve: I always liked Willie Mays Hayes.

But seriously, I think that Willie Mays was the best centerfielder of all time.

I can play back that moment that is seen in nearly every highlight from past, when he made that catch with his back to the ball. Incredible, plus the guy could tear the cover off the ball.

Griffey is right there also, not too far behind Mays, as the best all time.

(Editor’s note… there is a reason that Willie Mays is included in the MLBRT Logo that appears at the top of this column every week… he was that damn good.) 

4) Mike Piazza got elected into the Hall after a four year wait (interestingly Yogi Berra had to wait four years, too). There are seventeen other catchers in the Hall but only eight were elected by the BBWAA… Mickey Cochrane, Bill Dickey, Gabby Hartnett, Roy Campanella, Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk and Gary Carter. (The other catchers were either selected by the Negro League Committee or the Veterans Committee.)

In your opinion, where does he rate among the eight listed catchers in the Hall that were selected by the BBWAA?  

Archie1-300x277Archie: I have him at about number three behind Bench and Berra.

Statistically, I realize he probably was the best hitting catcher ever. But, for honors received while playing and such he falls in totally for me at about #3 all time.

Piazza, Bench & Berra
Piazza, Bench & Berra

Dan 3Dan: I think Mike Piazza is a top 3 catcher of all-time behind Johnny Bench and Yogi Berra. Not only was he an amazing hitter, but, he also had a lot of talent behind the plate. It’s not a common sight to see a catcher who can hit and man! could Mike Piazza hit.

I don’t think there’s going to be any that can pass Johnny Bench or Yogi Berra but Piazza comes close. He’s a top-3 for sure, just watch some old games. His stats speak for themselves. 

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: He’s towards the back of the line but I’m glad Mike got in.As I said in last week’s roundtable Piazza was the Mets during his time here. He was the face of the City for a brief time after September 11th, and for all he did on the field, he was a bigger asset off of it.

However, if you are going to compare him to the catchers on this list, he is not in the top 5. He might be 7th or 8th depending on your perspective. Campanella Roy Plaque

Me (2)Joe: Toughie… four of the players on the list I never saw play… but, I do know Campanella won three MVPs in just 9 years while with the Brooklyn Dodgers before a horrible car accident ended his career…  also, in 1953 he set a single-season record for catchers with 41 homers and 142 RBI, Who knows what numbers he would have put up if he played a full career, still his 9-year career still certainly makes him worthy of being in the top five.

Saying that… here’s my rankings…. Yogi or Johnny are probably a flat-out tie for #1 … some days I go with Yogi and some days I go with Johnny… then comes Campy and then, I guess, its’ Mike… and the rest of them follow in no particular order.

Steve-01-288x300Steve: He is the best hitting catcher the game has ever seen. So, offensively he is the best. Defensively, he was great, but, not the best.

Overall, I would put him behind Yogi Berra, Johnny Bench, and Carlton Fisk. As the catcher, you should be the leader of the club. I don’t see the leadership in Piazza that I have heard and seen with Berra, Bench, and Fisk. So he is #4 in my book.

5) ESPN asked Mike Piazza “What would it mean if the Mets retired your number, joining Tom Seaver as the only players with that honor?” 

Should the Mets bestow that honor upon Mike? For that matter, should the Dodgers?  

Archie1-300x277Archie: I don’t see why not. He played 8 of his 16 seasons with them; that was about the same as Seaver had with the Mets.

IMO only guys that play 85% or better with one team should ever have their number retired by that team, i.e. Derek Jeter, Chipper Jones. I would accept some exceptions to that rulelike Greg Maddux and the Braves. Mad Dog played 23 years but only 11 with Atlanta. However, he gave Atlanta 3 CYA years, their only WS year, 7 AS years, and a GG pitcher every year as well.

Piazza & Seaver
Piazza & Seaver

So, I guess, I have sat here and talked myself into reasons other than longevity that a player’s number could be retired by a team but in the case with Piazza, I am thinking that only the Mets would probably consider doing so. 

Dan 3Dan: Personally, I think the New York Mets should retire his number. He’s a Mets icon and he definitely deserves to receive his number retired. He will always be remembered as one of the best Mets’ player to ever step onto the field. Everyone remembers him as a Met.

Now, regarding the Dodgers, I don’t think so. He didn’t go into the Hall of Fame with a Dodgers’ cap. He isn’t as well known as a Dodger and his best years were with the Mets. Retire his number New York!

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: Both franchises should retire number 31. Piazza made the bigger impact with the Mets, but he’s equally remembered for what he did for the Dodgers.

Both franchises owe a lot to Mike Piazza and should honor him by retiring his number but if the Dodgers choose not to do that, I would understand. However, if the Mets do not retire his number then something is wrong. Very wrong. It would be disrespectful of the franchise not to honor Mike in that matter. 

Me (2)Joe: As good as his stats were when he played for the Dodgers I’m not sure his career there was long enough for them to consider retiring his number… I could l see where they might do it but would totally understand them not doing it, too.

However, I think Mike Piazza, in many ways was the face of the Mets… at  least offensively… while he played for the Mets and he certainly is deserving of having his number retired next to that of Tom Seaver’s number.Griffey jr & Piazza HOF

Steve-01-288x300Steve: I think that Piazza should have his number retired by the Mets, he led them to a World Series, multiple playoff berths, and, was a leader of the clubhouse.

I don’t think he had that kind of reputation with the Dodgers, so, no, I don’t think the Dodgers should retire his number.

To me, if your number is going to be retired, and, you played for multiple teams, and you are a hall of famer, then whichever hat your bust enshrines, would be the team that retires your number, just my opinion. Maddux had both the Cubs and Braves on his plaque, so, he is the exception. 

Extra Innings…

Bonus question…

6) Jeff Bagwell (71.6%), Tim Raines (69.8%) and Trevor Hoffman (67.3%) were all near misses for election to this year’s Hall of Fame class. Do you think the BBWAA will include them in next year’s Hall Call? 

Trevor Hoffman
Trevor Hoffman

Archie1-300x277Archie: In an earlier blog post we discussed the “relief pitcher” conundrum and how the writer’s viewed them in their voting process. IF, Hoffman can’t make it now, how will his numbers continue to go up as the years go by? Simply because the new class of eligible will shrink and the voters will have to go back and review the others more closely? I don’t think so.Those voters that overlooked him this year will probably continue to do so in the future.

I don’t think Raines is ever going to make the required 75%; and I have my doubts about Bags….UNTIL…the voters change their views on the whole roid issue.

Dan 3Dan: Yes, the BBWAA will elect Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines and Trevor Hoffman next year.

I thought that Bagwell was going to make it this year. I’m surprised that Raines didn’t make it, but, I’m not too surprised with Hoffman. For whatever reason, relief pitchers (closers) have a hard time getting in. I thought he should’ve gotten in this year, but I expect them to wait a season. Him and Mariano Rivera are both 2 players that deserved first ballot induction into the Hall.

Tim Raines
Tim Raines

They’ll all get in next year, that’s my prediction.

E_J_-12-238x300Earl: I could see them getting in, especially since it’s unlikely Pudge Rodriguez or Vlad Guerrero will merit 1st time ballot selection. Bagwell and Raines should get in, considering how close they were to making it.

I don’t think Hoffman gets to 75 percent though. He might be a little too far away to make up ground in the minds of the voters. 

Me (2)Joe: I’ll try and make this real simple…

I think Bagwell and Raines will sneak in, but, I think that weird bias against relievers will keep Hoffman out. I think the fact that it will be Raines’ do or die year in 2017… his last year appearing on the ballot for the BBWAA to vote on his election to the Hall… will work in his favor, too.

Jeff Bagwell
Jeff Bagwell

Steve-01-288x300Steve: Growing up, Bagwell was my favorite offensive player that I watched. I replicated his batting stance, and, loved watching him play with the Astros. I went down to Houston just to see him play a game. So, I was really excited to see him get over 71% of the vote. Yeah, he gets in next year, and I may even make a trip to Cooperstown, like I did with my favorite pitcher Greg Maddux when he got inducted.

As for Raines, he probably gets in as well, but it will be a lot closer. I think Bagwell gets 85% or better next year, while Raines will have between 75 and 80%. One thing going for them is that in the class next year no one is probably a first ballot electee. Ramirez will not get in, and Ivan Rodriguez is a Hall of Famer, but, I bet he has to wait a few years before getting the call.

Extra Extra Innings…

The Hall of Fame opened its doors in 1939 and welcomed its first four classes of inductees, which included (clockwise from top left) Honus Wagner, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Tris Speaker, Napoleon Lajoie, George Sisler, Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Connie Mack, Babe Ruth and Eddie Collins (Ty Cobb arrived too late for the photo).
The Hall of Fame opened its doors in 1939 and welcomed its first four classes of inductees, which included (clockwise from top left) Honus Wagner, Grover Cleveland Alexander, Tris Speaker, Napoleon Lajoie, George Sisler, Walter Johnson, Cy Young, Connie Mack, Babe Ruth and Eddie Collins (Ty Cobb arrived too late for the photo).

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1 Comment

  1. My best memory of Ken Griffey, Jr. was when he appeared (in silhouette) in a commercial for Frosted Flakes. He was labeled only as “Ken, Jr.” The symbol for the product was (and still is) an orange and black striped character named “Tony.” “Ken” is heard saying, “I play for Seattle but I have always been a Tiger fan.”

    I would rank Mickey Cochrane up there with Berra and Campanella. Just because he was before your time doesn’t mean he wasn’t as good. (Note: He was before my time, too.)

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