January 2013

Two tales of one city

Kudos to U-T San Diego on Sunday for the enterprise story that encompassed the entire front page of Sports, “Two Tales of One City.”

It told the story of New Orleans post Katrina with the Super Bowl playing out there next Sunday for the first time since the storm ravaged that community in 2005. That story is one of a city that has rebounded well in some areas, but is still suffering in many others.

The piece, though, left out several key sports elements. Aside from the Super Bowl, hundreds of millions have been spent on renovating the Super Dome and saving the NFL Saints and NBA Hornets (soon to be Pelicans) for New Orleans. This rather than rebuild infrastructure that affects a much wider swath of people in The Crescent City. The NBA also has already staged an All-Star Game (2008) and is scheduled to go there again.

This in a community where the local paper that did such a boffo job covering Katrina has since laid off most of its staff and is printing only three days a week with a daily online presence.

Just like San Diego’s baseball and continuing football stadium situation, there’s an argument about what kind of damage the loss of a professional sports team does to the collective psyche of a community and to business in that community as a whole. The public money spent on sports never seems to to be apportioned to police, fire, schools or social services instead. These are the decisions every community has to make. It is going on in Sacramento right now with the NBA Kings sold and about to move to Seattle. How much responsibility do the tax payers have to join with private business if fans want to keep their sports teams? This is what they’re trying to figure out in a last ditch effort to save the Kings right now.

The U-T story written and reported by Michael Gehlken was incomplete. But I give him and the paper an A for effort for at least trying.

My Hall of Fame Ballot for 2013

Barry Bonds, Craig Biggio, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Mark McGwire, Rafael Palmeiro, Jack Morris, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell.

This ballot, as controversial as it is, wasn’t very tough for me. I’ve always voted for the best players from their particular era and this year is no different. Using all 10 slots, I voted for the all-time home run leader, a pitcher with 354 wins, the Astro with 3,060 hits, the catcher with the most homers ever at that position, the outfielder who produced three 60-homer, plus seasons, the first baseman with 583 homers, the man who hit 569 homers and amassed 3,020 hits, the pitcher with the most wins in the American League during the 1980s, the reliever with 478 saves and one of the best AL shortstops for 20 years.

It contained some tough choices because I didn’t have the room this year to vote for several guys I have in the past: Tim Raines, Fred McGriff and Edgar Martinez, who were also terrific players in their own right. I haven’t voted for Jeff Bagwell, but there’s little question he deserves a hard look.

Many good players, I fear, will now be neglected as more and more greats of the just past era will have exhausted their five-year waiting period to join the holdovers on the ballot.

Next year it will be even tougher with Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux and Frank Thomas eligible for very serious if not obvious consideration. In my mind, they are all Hall of Famers. After that, John Smoltz, Trevor Hoffman, Ken Griffey Jr. and Randy Johnson are among others to join the group. They all should be elected on the first ballot.

A player only has to garner five percent of the vote each year to remain on the ballot for a maximum of 15 years. This is going to create a logjam on the ballot in the coming years as my colleagues in the Baseball Writers’ Association of America individually determine who meets the Hall of Fame criteria and who doesn’t.

In my mind there is no question. My 10 choices this year meet the criteria and should be in the Hall of Fame.