Picked-up pieces while daydreaming about how — in a normal year — my JetBlue flight would be landing in Tampa for Super Bowl Week right about now …
▪ Look for David Ortiz to sail into Cooperstown when the Hall of Fame Class of 2022 is announced at this time next year. Big Papi comes on the ballot for the first time in December, and I believe he’ll easily vault over the 75 percent threshold.
It’s going to be the wildest Hall election ever, which is saying something given events of this past week. Ortiz and Álex Rodríguez are the top achievers among the new candidates in 2022, and they will be on the same ballot with Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, and Curt Schilling (sorry, Schill, you don’t get to withdraw your name), who’ll all be in their 10th and final year of consideration.
Papi is the one who will prevail. Clemens and Bonds simply don’t have the traction to vault over the magic number because of their PED reputations. Similarly, A-Rod cheated for years and fessed up to all of it.
Ortiz, meanwhile, is in his own “special” category: In 2009, Papi’s name was leaked as having come up positive in the 2003 PED testing — a baseline measurement that was supposed to be secret and without penalties — along with A-Rod, Sammy Sosa, and Manny Ramírez. Unlike A-Rod, Sammy, and Manny, Ortiz was granted a presidential pardon by commissioner Rob Manfred.
Bottom line: All the other guys are considered dirty, but Ortiz is forgiven because MLB loves him. Everybody loves Big Papi. He performed and he was great to the fans and the media.
Nothing sticks — not even the never-explained shooting in the Dominican Republic in 2019 that resulted in a clownish roundup of usual suspects and the preposterous conclusion that Ortiz was shot as a result of mistaken identity.
▪ I’ve sent Schilling’s 1,200-word Tuesday night screed to multiple geniuses and soothsayers, and nobody seems to be able to decode the thing. Curt keeps telling us he’s not a Hall of Famer but anybody who didn’t vote for him is a coward (Schill should have blamed the BBWAA’s Dominion voting machines).
Schilling says he’ll gladly turn his candidacy over to the Veterans Committee, but a quarter of that committee will be media members, and there might also be a few Hall of Famers curious about Curt’s position papers on Black Lives Matter issues.
Let’s also remember that Schilling went out of his way to bury Clemens and Bonds, which never plays well with ex-players.
Nobody can figure out what Curt’s issue is with the Red Sox (”What Mr. Henry and Mr. Werner did to my family and I in my final year …”). In his final season (2008), the Red Sox paid Schilling $8 million for not throwing a single pitch. By this logic, Curt also must be angry at the taxpayers of Rhode Island for what they did to his family.
▪ Got an e-mail from a Hall of Famer who was not buying Schill’s response or his logic. The thrust of this missive was that Schilling is copping out, taking his ball and going home instead of letting voters who have ruled on the Hall since 1936 make a decision on his candidacy.
Schilling always wanted the ball in the big games, so where is that now? This e-mail from a Hall of Famer doesn’t bode well for Schill’s hope to gain points with the Veterans Committee.
Schilling’s request to be removed from the ballot presents as an attempt to avoid a 10th rejection. He doesn’t make the rules, and the Hall should reject his request.
▪ Quiz: Since 1969, three players who have last names of US presidents have made the final outs of World Series. They played for the Orioles, Royals, and Braves. Name them (answer below).
▪ Sign me up for Matthew Stafford. The Drew Bledsoe comparison shouldn’t bother anyone around here. What’s wrong with a tough guy with a strong arm, a lot of years in the league, and established Pro Bowl talent?
Kind of harsh for Tedy Bruschi to say that Stafford is “not a winner.” The guy has played his entire career with the Lions. Does this mean we wouldn’t have wanted Barry Sanders? Would Bruschi have been a winning player if he had spent his career with the Lions?
▪ When the Herald’s Karen Guregian asked Tom Brady Sr. how he thinks Bill Belichick is doing in the wake of Tommy’s latest surge to the Super Bowl, Brady Sr. said, “I’m guessing he’s on a little bit of a hot seat right now.” Ouch. That one has to sting a little.
▪ I’m already missing Jackie Bradley Jr. and he hasn’t even left yet.
▪ Folks in New York evidently weren’t too upset with the Red Sox landing Yankees reliever Adam Ottavino. The New York Post headlined the deal, “Yanks Dump Ottavino on Red Sox.”
▪ Storm clouds are forming over Arizona and Florida. Major league owners do not want spring training to start on time and would not mind a reduced schedule. They bleed money playing games with no crowds. Meanwhile, the players want their full 162-game pay this season, and both parties are frothing with distrust as they enter the final year of their basic agreement.
The parties are on a collision course for a work stoppage in 2022 — just what everybody needs in a sport that is losing fans and relevance.
A delayed spring training feels inevitable. Arizona is a national coronavirus hot spot. Putting teams there in the middle of February is a risky venture.
▪ I could never get worked into a lather regarding a handful of people not voting for a near-unanimous and obvious Hall of Famer. This came up again last week when Hank Aaron died and it was pointed out that nine writers did not vote for Aaron when he came on the ballot.
It’s stupid, but who cares? What’s the difference? I don’t need to know the identity of the one guy who didn’t vote for Derek Jeter. If you ask 400 people if Sunday is Sunday, there always will be somebody who insists it is not Sunday.
A greater question would be to ask someone how they could feel so strongly about Aaron’s greatness and still cast a Cooperstown vote for Bonds, who beat Aaron’s record by cheating.
▪ The late Agnes Williams — widow of Edward Bennett Williams, who owned the Washington Redskins in the 1970s and the Baltimore Orioles in the 1980s — bequeathed $23.5 million from her estate to Holy Cross College in Worcester.
Trial attorney Ed Williams, the only child of a department store floorwalker in Hartford, attended HC on a financial need scholarship and graduated in 1941. He brought young attorney Larry Lucchino with him to the Redskins and Orioles. Lucchino went on to build Camden Yards and Petco Park, renovate Fenway Park, and is currently overseeing the completion of Polar Park in Worcester.
▪ Alyn Shipton’s biography of singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson contains a passage about a Long Island high school baseball game between Bayport and Bridgehampton and claims Nilsson led the league in doubles, but “was completely eclipsed by another player who played for Bridgehampton and led the league in just about everything else.” Young Carl Yastrzemski.
▪ Quiz answer: Davey Johnson, 1969 Orioles; Willie Wilson, 1980 Royals; Otis Nixon, 1992 Braves.