The Rundown: MLB’s Biggest Issues for 2016, Ken Griffey Jr’s HOF Votes, Single-Team Packages, White Sox After Big-Time OF

Top Of The First

Just a heads up to my boss/editor Evan Altman that I am posting today’s column under protest because he called me a proletariat on Twitter yesterday. I wanted to stage a real revolt by typing out today’s column on a Smith-Corona Speedline but I do not have Evan’s mailing address. In my mind I am in full proletariat mode right now, however, typing this piece on an imaginary 75-year old typewriter. So there’s that.


1. workers or working-class people, regarded collectively (often used with reference to Marxism).

2. the lowest class of citizens in ancient Rome.

Synonyms: the common people, the lower classes, the masses, the rank and file, the third estate, the plebeians.

Major League Baseball’s Biggest Issues Heading Into 2016

Forbes should be recognized for their wonderful sports coverage, particularly when it comes to Maury Brown, who covers baseball in a manner that encapsulates both the athletic and the business sides of the game. Yesterday he penned another great column entitled “Major League Baseball’s Biggest Problems.”

I’ll give you the Cliff’s Notes.

1. Minor League Salaries

Twenty former minor league baseball payers have filed a class action lawsuit seeking better wages for current minor league players. As the suit notes, “while major league salaries have risen by more than 2,000 percent since 1976, minor league salaries have, on average, increased only 75 percent [in the same time period] while inflation has risen 400 percent.”

Counsel for Major League Baseball and Minor League Baseball hope to nullify the suit. Minor League players currently do not have the right to unionize.

2. Poorly Run Franchises

Brown specifically points in the direction of Miami Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria, citing incompetence going all the way back to his entry into baseball with the Montreal Expos, and the Wilpons of the New York Mets, who continue to use the crutch of debt as a means to keep a lid on the team’s bank account when it comes to upgrading the team. SEC investigations and profit skimming have exposed the shady practices of Loria. Meanwhile, the Wilpon’s ties to Bernie Madoff continue to illustrate the disgrace of a team playing in the largest market in the country while simultaneously remaining in the bottom third in league payroll.

3. The Need For More Ethnic Diversity in Baseball

The lack of minorities in key baseball operations positions continues to plague baseball. Currently, Dusty Baker is the league’s only African-American manager. Commissioner Rob Manfred has stated that “baseball needs to give special emphasis to the preparation of minority and female candidates.”  Brown wonders if Manfred’s direction is just right or not enough.

You can read Maury Brown’s article in it’s entirety on the Forbes website.

Will Ken Griffey Jr. Get 100% of the Baseball Hall Of Fame Vote?

Ryan Thibs is tweeting and compiling a running index of BBWAA Hall of Fame ballots that are publicly accessible. With 120 votes accounted for thus far, Seattle Mariners and Cincinnati Reds  OF Ken Griffey Jr. has been named on every singe ballot. Bear in mind there are still 340+ ballots that remain to be seen, but a chance remains that Junior may go into Cooperstown this year with 100% of the vote in his first year of eligibility.

Griffey Jr. has a number of factors pointing in his favor, including 630 home runs (6th best all-time), 2,781 hits, 1,662 runs scored and 1,836 RBIs. If you are an advanced metrics guy, you can’t ignore nine gold gloves, a career OPS of .907, a career WAR of 83.6 and a 53.9 seven-year peak WAR. Griffey Jr. also appeared in thirteen All-Star games.

As far as baseball writers are concerned, he may have been the most likable baseball player spanning the 21 seasons he played the game. Griffey Jr. also managed to avoid all of the PED controversy that plagued a number of his peers during that era of baseball, some of whom are also on this year’s ballot.

But there’s this: No player has ever been a unanimous Hall of Fame selection. Tom Seaver came the closest, garnering 98.8% while being completely left off of five ballots. Nolan Ryan also garnered 98.8% of the votes in his first year of eligibility. Nine members did not vote for Henry Aaron. Ted Williams was left off of 22 ballots and Willie Mays was completely ignored by 29 voters. Those same 29 voters probably passed on Stan Musial too. My hero, Mickey Mantle, was left off of more than 10% of all ballots. Joe DiMaggio wasn’t even a first-ballot selection.

Clearly, the voting process is horribly flawed.

As many are aware, a voting member can only cast their ballot for 10 players in any given year but a voter is not required to check 10 names. For instance, Randy Galloway only voted for two players this year — Jeff Bagwell and Griffey Jr. Though I do not believe there are ten Hall of Fame candidates on this year’s ballot, I’d argue that Tim Raines, Mike Mussina, Edgar Martinez, Lee Smith, Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa all deserve consideration from voters.

There is little doubt that Griffey Jr. is guaranteed to become a member of Baseball’s Hall Of Fame this year. But if history is any indicator, when the BBWAA reveals its results on January 6th, The Kid will undoubtedly fall short of being baseball’s first unanimous selection.

Fact, Fiction, Truth Or Rumor?

Riann Watt from BP Wrigleyville has a great piece on roster redundancy, depth and potential weaknesses with the Cubs 2016 squad.

As baseball further embraces streaming television technology, the league announced yesterday that single-team subscriptions will be available for the first time starting this season. In-market games will still be unavailable to subscribers. I expect that to change within the next few seasons, however, possibly as soon as 2017. We’ll call it an industry “hunch” for now and leave it at that. Just remember: I told you first.

The White Sox are charging hard to acquire an outfielder in free agency and have Yoenis Cespedes, Justin Upton and Alex Gordon in their sight lines. The Pale Hose haven’t closed the door on a return for longtime shortstop Alexei Ramirez either, writes Bruce Levine.

I love whenever Scott Boras stumps for his players. There are few greater offseason quotes than those from the supercilious player agent. On MLB Radio yesterday Boras commented on free agency in general, free-agent clients Chris Davis and Denard Span, and on baseball’s next collective bargaining agreement. MLB Trade Rumors highlights some of his better opinions.

The Washington Nationals have signed INF Stephen Drew. The team may be looking to bolster its starting rotation with free-agent Scott Kazmir as well.

The New York Mets have no interest in free-agent OF Denard Span.

College baseball provides the backdrop for Richard Linklater’s new film “Everbody Wants Some” which is set for an April 2016 release. Linklater’s most popular film to date is “Dazed & Confused.”

Craig Calcaterra is chronicling the Top 25 Baseball Stories of 2015.

Kris Bryant got engaged yesterday evening to his longtime girlfriend Jessica Delp. Congratulations to both!

A cautionary wedding tale: Miko Grimes is a great example of what not to look for in a significant other if you are a well-known athlete.

Bottom Of The Ninth

I spent the weekend binge-watching “Talking Baseball With Ed Randall.” Over the course of his television series, Randall interviewed hundreds of baseball’s greatest ambassadors in a “Remember When” one-on-one format. With the Hall Of Fame voting so prominent in the news this week and next, watching Randall interview legends like Mickey Mantle, Ernie Banks, Tom Seaver, Ernie Harwell, and Bob Gibson is nothing short of fantastic.

Talking Baseball will be coming to Jivewired TV when we debut later this year but if you currently have a Hulu subscription you can watch 13 of Randall’s best episodes, including his interview with Cubs great Ernie Banks. I hate to plug a competing service — everybody already knows all about Hulu anyway — but in this case it is well worth your time to tune in.

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