President Barack Obama paid tribute to "the best of who we are and who we aspire to be" in awarding America's highest civilian honor Tuesday to 15 people, including former President George H.W. Bush, poet Maya Angelou, baseball slugger Stan Musial and cellist Yo-Yo Ma.
WASHINGTON -- After experiencing what he called the most thrilling day of his life, Hall of Famer Stan Musial sat at a Washington airport Tuesday feeling confident that the man who is his heir apparent as a Cardinals legend will finish his career where it all began, just as Musial himself once did almost half a century ago.
This will be about Andre Dawson, the one player chosen this year by the Baseball Writers Association for the Hall of Fame, but there has to be a bit of set up first. I have this feeling that Dawson's induction this year -- and Jim Rice's induction last year and Jack Morris' climb up the charts -- has something to do with childhood and heroes.
Where does one begin in making a list of the greatest hitters ever? Well, I put together a spreadsheet, and using my very special grading system that I only just invented, I came up with a Top 10 list of hitters. In fact, I have a Top 538 hitters -- those are the 538 hitters in baseball history who compiled more than 6,000 plate appearances. The bottom 10, in case you are curious:
First off, I don't like replay in football. I don't like it because of the way it interrupts the flow and pace of the game. And, no, I'm not talking about the time it takes to make a call. I don't care about the time it takes. For me, the thing with replay around is that everything in football feels theoretical. A receiver for your team makes an impossible touchdown catch in the final seconds ... Do you cheer? Do you go crazy? Do you throw your popcorn and drop your beer and kiss the person next to you and go berserk?
You may have seen that Stuart Miller over at my favorite newspaper, The New York Times, champions a suggestion that a few people at my blog have suggested as well -- namely to replace batting average with on-base percentage in the Triple Crown. It's an idea good enough that Steve Phillips is on board*, which as you know is pretty much all you need to say in this little corner of the blogodome.
There is a very short list of players in baseball history who over long careers hit .300, own an on-base percentage of .400 and slug .500. There are more complete ways to judge a player's hitting talents, of course, but there's something beautifully well-rounded about the .300/.400/.500 hitter. He hits. He walks. He pounds the ball.
Fill in answers as in a crossword -- except the answers are numbers. For rows or columns with multiple clues, enter answers consecutively. The sum will equal the red total at the end of each row/column.
1) The Twins have played the entire season in a narrow window of mediocrity. They never have been more than three games better than .500 and never worse than six games below .500. Their first baseman and their third baseman are hurt. But here they are with just 16 games left in the season and they still could be a division champion, especially with seven of those games against first-place Detroit, starting on Friday. Really, it's only by virtue of the lousy play of the Tigers that Minnesota has hung in the race.
After a one-week vacation, we are back with the continuing evolution of an experiment that last appeared two weeks ago: a combination column with Boston Red Sox senior advisor and baseball writer extraordinaire Bill James ...
Baseball writing cowboy Tracy Ringolsby brought up an interesting point at the winter meetings about why Rickey Henderson should get 100 percent of the Hall of Fame vote. Henderson, of course, will not get 100 percent of the vote because NOBODY gets 100 percent of the vote*. It's one of those bizarre quirks of the baseball writers' voting, bizarre because at some point there were some among the baseball writers who started to take PRIDE in the quirk, started feeling gratified by the fact that Willie Mays and Babe Ruth and Mike Schmidt and Tom Seaver and Stan Musial and Hank Aaron did not get every vote. I guess they thought (think) of themselves as guardians of the gate.