Posted on: May 30, 2008 6:25 pm

Blog Cabin: Chipper's chase

In the news...

The story has gotten a little attention, but not nearly as much as I would have expected.
I mean, we’re exactly a third of the way through the season, and Chipper Jones is hitting .420 for Pete’s sake!

It’s been 67 years since Ted Williams hit .406. No man alive has hit .400 in a complete season of Major League Baseball.

And, I know, it’s very early to start counting chickens, but if the guy keeps swinging the bat way he has been, there’s no telling what could happen.

Even if the chances are slim, it is, without a doubt, the best story of the season so far. Heck, it would be the best baseball story since the race between McGwire and Sosa... In hindsight, of course, I’d have to go back to the Cal Ripken streak for something a little less tarnished.

Chipper’s an easy guy to get behind, too. Although he’s struggled with injuries, he’s always been a hard-nosed, throwback type of player. He’s the kind of guy you saw in the league before the era of super-inflated salaries, and more importantly, steroid-inflated biceps.

...And that leads me to consider the deeper meaning of a guy like Chipper hitting .400 in 2008.

If the steroid era has, presumably, just come to an end, than what are the implications of a player immediately hitting .400?

For me, I wonder what we may have missed while a good portion of the players in the league were taking the needle. What if Tony Gwynn had faced a few less “enhanced” pitchers in 1994, when he hit .394? How many wins did juiced-up bats cost Pedro in 1999, when he had 23?

Sure, we probably would have never seen a 73-homerun season, but how many legitimate players lost their chance to do something special? Athletes are naturally becoming bigger, stronger and faster, and training in today’s game is beyond comparison with anything they had back in the days of the “Splendid Splinter”.

Basically, would the great clean players of this generation have been some of the best of all-time? Would players, like Chipper and Frank Thomas, have ascended to become the superstar players of the league?

It’s impossible to say for sure, but if Chipper hits .400 on the most even playing field in quite some time, I think we can pretty much throw away every statistic from 1990 to present.

Of course, some people will say that it all evened out in the end. Hitters are juicing; pitchers are juicing... so it’s all square, right?


That’s argument’s fine, unless you’re clean. A clean pitcher faced the double-whammy of trying to keep pace with cheating pitchers, and compete against cheating batters. The same goes for a hitter.

Chipper’s done well despite that challenge. He’s been consistently good without any extra help, and I hope he can keep his bat hot enough to do what a lot of us thought might never be done again.
Posted on: May 23, 2008 6:43 pm
Edited on: May 23, 2008 7:14 pm

Blog Cabin: A turning point for MLB?

In the news...

Hallelujah! The Major League Baseball Players Association has finally taken a step in the right direction when it comes to drug testing.

Stop laughing, I’m being serious here.

On the last possible day for ratification, the players approved a deal which calls for an increase in the frequency of tests and in the authority of the program's independent administrator.

In return for the players’ approval, Bud Selig agreed to rescind suspensions against two players, and to not discipline any player implicated in the Mitchell Report. Of course, this agreement comes under increasing pressure from lawmakers to improve drug testing, or face legal action.

From the sound of it, the baseball establishment has been forced in to an uneasy truce... but it’s a truce none the less and, at this point, I’ll take it.

Anything that moves in the direction of fully-independent testing is exactly what MLB needs to be doing right now, and I’ve got to applaud Selig for getting it done. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the commissioner actually did the right thing by meeting the players’ demands.

As much as I hate seeing the players manipulate the “absolute” power that baseball’s commissioner is supposed to wield, bargaining skills have become an essential part of today’s game.

Besides, I could care less if every last Mitchell Report suspect is tracked down.

Most of the players in the Mitchell Report are nobodies, anyway. “Names”, like Wally Joyner, David Justice and Mo Vaughn are already starting to fade in to baseball obscurity.

As for the few superstars on that list... Well, let’s just say that I don’t think Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds will be getting in the Hall of Fame on the first ballot, if at all.

Even if they do, they will join the Pete Rose’s and Joe Jackson’s of the world... Destined to be remembered more for their transgressions then for their play on the field.

We, as fans, know where we stand. We know what happened to America’s game, and we’ve already decided who’s clean and who’s dirty.

Yep, Bud did a good job by keeping the blood hounds in the yard on this one. Maybe this signals a turning point. Maybe we can finally stop ripping baseball down, and start putting it back together again.

From the Blogosphere...

The Angels have just finished taking two out of three from the Toronto Blue Jays, and now head to Chicago to take on the scorching hot White Sox. Still, HALOS02 thinks that, if his boys can shut down Chicago's long ball, they should be able to win the series.

Who's your favorite NFL player NOT on your favorite team? Let koala know.

Duckplucker tells us why instant replay has no place in America's pastime. He's right, too. What are we going to do... remove the entire human element?
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