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If you look up to see who has the most hits by a catcher, you may be surprised by the answer.  Obviously, the title of the entry tips my hand, but if you haven’t figured it out yet, the answer is Ted Simmons.  Ted played 21 seasons with St. Louis, Milwaukee, and the Braves.  He will have to wait for the Veterans Committee to induct him, but I think he should already be in.

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Photo courtesy of Icon SMI

The Numbers
.285 Batting Average (hit .300 or better seven times)
1074 Runs
2472 Hits (90th All-time)
248 Home Runs
483 Doubles (61st All-time)
1389 RBI (68th All-time)

The Awards
1 Silver Sluggers
8 All-Star Appearances
Received MVP votes 7 seasons

Top Ten Finishes
Batting Average – Six times (2nd in ’75)
On Base % – Four times
Slugging % – Four times
OPS – Five times
Hits – Four times
Doubles – Eight Times
RBI – Six Times
Total Bases – Four Times

References
Baseball-reference.com

Simmons wasn’t great defensively, which hurts his case as a catcher.  However, he was a major force on offense.  He has more hits and doubles than any Hall of Fame catcher.  Only Yogi Berra has more RBIs.  It’s time to let this member of Harvey’s Wallbangers in the Hall of Fame.

Past Chronicles
Bert Byleven
Andre Dawson
Dale Murphy
Mark McGwire
Bobby Matthews
Tommy John
Buck O’Neill & Minnie Minoso
Jim Rice

 | Posted by | Categories: Cooperstown Chronicles, MLB |

It’s Playoff Time, but I’m still going out on that fantasy football limb. I will pick three players I think will score more points than a higher profile player. The scoring is 6 points for rushing or receiving TD, 4 points for a passing TD, .1 points per yard for rushing or receiving and .05 points per passing yard. First, I’ll recap how I did during the Divisional Round.

Last Week
Peyton Manning 31.5 beat Eli Manning 19.35 (16.35 actual plus 3 spotted points) WHICH I GOT WRONG.
Marion Barber III 19.8 beat Maurice Jones-Drew 6.7 as I predicted.
Nate Burleson 3.3 beat Jabar Gaffney 2.6 WHICH I GOT WRONG.

This Week’s Picks:
Overall: 1-2
Breakdown: QB: 0-1, RB: 1-0, WR: 0-1

Overall Playoff Picks: 1-5
Breakdown: QB: 0-2, RB 1-1, WR: 0-2

Overall Record
Regular Picks: 43-48-1
Super Stretch Picks: 12-5
Overall: 55-53-1
Breakdown: QB: 8-13, RB: 28-18-1, WR: 18-22

This Week’s Picks
Brett Favre over Eli Manning +5
It’s getting harder to pick these as the pool keeps shrinking. Tom Brady would require way too much of a spread than I feel comforatable with so I’ll go Brett vs. Peyton’s brother in their head-to-head matchup for the Super Bowl. They are both one step away. Favre has to realize that this could be his last chance to make it. Who knows how next year will turn out. I think he’ll another game for the ages to ensure he’s playing on Feb. 3rd.

Laurence Maroney over Brandon Jacobs +2
Judging by the season stats I shouldn’t spot Jacobs, but Maroney was AWESOME last week. I think they will continue to utilize him as he seems 100% finally. Green Bay did a number on Seattle’s pathetic running game. I can see them slowing down the G-Men attack, especially if they get to scoring in bunches again.

Vincent Jackson over Donald Driver
With San Diego banged up, Vincent Jackson will again be featured more prominently in their attack. They are likely going to be playing from behind so they should pass often. I see Driver continuing to be ignored in the offense. Favre spreads it around too much to count on the guy who isn’t his primary target.

Previous Out on a Limb Picks
Week 1
Week 2
Week 3
Week 4
Week 5
Week 6
Week 7
Week 8
Week 9
Week 10
Week 11
Week 12
Week 13
Week 14
Week 15
Week 16
Week 17
Wild Card Weekend
Divisional Round Playoffs

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Judging by how close he came (16 votes shy), I assume that Jim Rice will meet the requirements next year to be enshrined in Cooperstown. Until then I get to plead my case for his induction.

The Numbers
.298 Batting Average
1249 Runs
2452 Hits (97th All-time)
382 Home Runs (53rd All-time)
1451 RBI (54th All-time)

The Awards
1978 MVP
2 Silver Sluggers
8 All-Star Appearances
6 Times in Top 5 in MVP Voting

Top Ten Finishes
Batting Average – Six times
On Base % – Twice
Slugging % – Eight times (Led league in 77 & 75)
OPS – Six times (Led league in 78)
Runs – Six times
Hits – Eight times (Led league in 78)
Doubles – Three Times
Triples – Four Times (Led league in 78)
Home Runs – Seven Times (Led league in 77, 78 & 83)
RBI – Nine Times (Led league in 78 & 83)
Total Bases – Nine Times (Led league in 77, 78, 79 & 83)

His 406 total bases in 1978 were more than anyone since 1948 (Stan Musial) until the Steroid Era where there have been five higher totals (Sosa twice, Luis Gonzalez, Barry Bonds, and Larry Walker). He is also the only player to lead the league in Home Runs, Triples, and RBIs in the same season. Rice was the first person with three straight 200 hit, 35 home run seasons.

If a wrist injury didn’t cost him the 1975 postseason, who knows how the story would have gone. He could have been the difference to help the Red Sox knock off the Big Red Machine. Had that happened, I’m sure Rice would have received the call years ago. Hopefully, next year is the one.

References
http://www.baseballlibrary.com/ballplayers/player.php?name=Jim_Rice_1953
http://www.baseball-reference.com/r/riceji01.shtml
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Rice

Past Chronicles
Bert Byleven
Andre Dawson
Dale Murphy
Mark McGwire
Bobby Matthews
Tommy John
Buck O’Neill & Minnie Minoso

 | Posted by | Categories: Cooperstown Chronicles, MLB |

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Photo courtesy of Ed Wolfstein/Icon SMI   

Green Bay helped me start things off right last week. Seattle got off to an early start because of Ryan Grant’s fumbles. I’d say he made up for it. I kept rolling with New England. Bill Belichick took away the running game and adjusted to render Jacksonville’s defense useless. He sure can gameplan. Sunday didn’t go quite as well for me. San Diego got by Indianapolis. Peyton Manning had two chances to take the lead and failed to both times. His little brother will be playing next week though, as the G-Men handled the Cowboys.

Last Week: 2-2
Overall Playoff Record: 4-4
Overall Season Record: 158-102

Conference Champion Picks
Green Bay over New York Giants
The Giants have played great on the road. They are on fire. However, I think they will have trouble against Green Bay. Brett Farve is too close to returning to the Super Bowl to let this one get away. The balanced attack that Ryan Grant has provided will be too much for the G-Men to handle. Green Bay will be much tougher on D as well.

New England over San Diego
This game looks familiar. They faced last year, and only a poor decision to return and interception kept San Diego from beating the Patriots. This is a much different team though. The Pats are too tough. You make one mistake and it’s over.

Those are my picks. What are yours?

 | Posted by | Categories: NFL | Tagged: NFL, NFL Picks |

I scoured the fantasy baskeball waiver wires to find gems so you don’t have to.

G
Charlie Bell - Charlie has picked up the pace over his last six games.  He averaged 16.0 points,  3.7 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 1.5 steals, and 2.0 three pointers per game.  He shot 53.5% from the floor and 80% from the line.  He qualifies as both a SG & SF.

Cuttino Mobley - Mobley has become a fantasy option again averaging 14.7 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assists in his past nine games. He’s shot 44.2% from the field and 91.7% from the line. 

F
Tim Thomas - After missing four of the last five games, Tim has strung together back-to-back solid efforts averaging 20.5 points, 3.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and a steal in the process while shooting 62.1% from the floor and 83.3% from the charity stripe.  Tim qualifies at both SF & PF.

Ryan Gomes - The Timberwolves suck.  That doesn’t help you, I just felt like bring it up.  Good job Kevin McHale.  The good thing about sucky teams is they often produce a couple decent fantasy players.  Gomes has been the guy lately.  In his last fourteen games he’s averaged 13.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, 1.3 assists, 0.9 steals, and 0.7 three pointers per game.  During that stretch he’s shot 46.5% from the field, and 80.4% from the line.  He’s scored in double-figures in 13 of the past 15 games.  He even had a 15 rebound effort.  Gomes qualifies as both a SF & PF .

C
Nazr Mohammed - Nazr has been outstanding over his past five games.  He’s averaging 17.0 points, 9.4 rebounds, 0.8 steals, and 0.8 blocks.  He’s shot an impressive 60.3% from the field, which helps you overlook the 65.2% he shot from the line.

Well, that’s it from the Waiver Wire Bin.  Free free to leave your comments.

 | Posted by | Categories: NBA | Tagged: Fantasy Basketball Waiver Wire Bin |

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I have been trying to do my part to spread the word about a great gentleman that has been a part of baseball for over seven decades. His commitment to the game, even as it continually shunned him, is admirable. In his playing days, he was not allowed to play in the big leagues because of the color of his skin. As hard as that is to fathom, the decision to omit him from the HOF when the “special” committee reviewed the Negro Leagues may be even worse. I use the word special loosely because there was nothing special about their decision. Maybe his playing stats didn’t justify his admission. However, they know what Buck has done for baseball (the Negro Leagues in particular) for the past half century. Keeping Buck out was a slap in the face to a baseball icon. They can try and spin it any way, but they can’t justify their decision in my mind. Now that he’s passed, there is no way to make it right. They can choose to let him in now. I guess I’d have to be OK with it. I just wish they could have done it while he was alive so he could enjoy it. Robbing this man of the joy of playing in the big leagues wasn’t enough. They had to rob him of the joy of being recognized for his service to baseball. They should be ashamed of themselves.

I’ve posted this before on my Sporting News site, but I’ll do it here as well.

A heralded player stepped into the batter’s box. This two-time batting champ didn’t crowd the plate. He didn’t strike fear in the pitcher he faced. Respect yes, but not fear. Why, you say? Because the leadoff hitter in the Northern League All-Star Game this summmer was one Buck O’Neil. The 94 year old former Negro League player was signed by the Kansas City T-Bones to a one day contract. He became the oldest player to ever play in a professional league with his at bats. (Buck walked in the top of the first, got traded to the opposition, and walked in the bottom of the first). T-Bones GM Rick Muntean wanted to use this appearance to raise attention to the snubbing Buck O’Neill received from the committee reviewing Negro Leagues. The T-Bones were trying to formulate a grassroots movement to petition to get Buck O’Neill in the Hall of Fame. Click Here to vote to Induct Buck The 12-person panel reviewing the Negro Leagues for entries into the Baseball Hall of Fame has preserved the history of injustices experienced by the players of this generation. Failing to elect Buck O’Neil and Minnie Minoso is a slap in the face not only to these two great ballplayers, but also to the sanctity of the Hall of Fame. They were the only living members among the 39 candidates on the ballot. While they are not Babe Ruth or Ty Cobb, both of these players merit being in the Hall of Fame.

Minnie Minoso played 17 seasons in the major leagues and was a career .298 hitter. He was a seven-time All-Star and a three-time Gold Glove outfielder. He finished fourth in MVP voting four times. He had among the top ten batting averages eight times between 1951-1960. Nine times he had among the top ten on-base percentages during that timeframe. Six times he had a top ten slugging percentage. Nine times he was top ten in runs, eight times he was top ten in hits (including leading the league in 1960), nine times he was top ten in total bases (including leading the league in 1954). Eight times he was in the top ten in doubles (led the league in 1957), six times in triples (led the league in 1951, 1954, and 1956). Twice he was in the top ten in home runs, five times for RBIs, and four times for walks Nine times he was in top six in stolen bases (led the league1951-1953). He also led the league in hit by pitch ten times (was top four 12 times). He was 57 years old when he played his last game. Do those sound like Hall of Fame credentials to you?…it’s because they are.

Buck O’Neil’s stats aren’t as gaudy as Minoso’s, but his impact on the game is just as great. Buck led the Negro League in batting in 1940 and 1946. He finished his career as a .288 hitter. He managed the Kansas City Monarch from 1948-1955, guiding them to five pennants and two Black World Series. He helped launch the Major League careers of Ernie Banks, George Altman, Gene Baker, Francisco Herrera, Elston Howard, J.C. Hartman, Connie Johnson, Sweet Lou Johnson, Satchel Paige, Hank Thompson, and Bob Thurman. In 1962 he became the first black coach in the Major Leagues with the Cubs. He helped discover stars like Lou Brock and Joe Carter. He spent 33 years with the Cubs before joining the Kansas City Royals as a scout in 1988. Buck chaired the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum Board of Directors, and served on the Veterans’ Committee of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Perhaps the most important thing Buck O’Neil did for baseball was keep the memory of the Negro Leagues alive. He fought to make sure that the injustices of the black players were not forgotten. Unfortunately, he had to relive it when this panel made their ridiculous decision. He died at 94 years old. I said it would be a shame for him to have to die before being recognized for his contributions…and it is.

Past Chronicles
Bert Byleven
Andre Dawson
Dale Murphy
Mark McGwire
Bobby Matthews
Tommy John

 | Posted by | Categories: Cooperstown Chronicles, MLB |

Tom Brady was…well…Tom Brady was Tom Brady.  He was on fire.  He was cool and calm.  He delivered under pressure.  He didn’t force things.  He took what the defense gave him.  He made a couple passes that required good grabs by his receivers.  His two incomplete passes were catchable.  He was a model of what a QB should play like.

Brett Favre was pretty darn good himself.  He didn’t panic when his team got back early.  He didn’t change the game plan and revert to the Farve of old.  He let his running back redeem himself.  He spread the ball around, and continued to look for Greg Jennings in the Redzone.  His off-balance underhand throw was a pass that only #4 could have made.

Eli Manning crept a little out of his brother’s shadow yesterday.  He took the show on the road, and didn’t back down to the heavily favored Cowboys.  He didn’t set the world on fire, but he did not make the mistakes that have plagued him from time to time.  He did enough to win.  That’s all that matters.

Philip Rivers played a solid game.  He had 264 yards passing and three TDs.  With Gates hurting, he turned to Vincent Jackson and Chris Chambers.  He ended up hurting his knee making him questionable for next week.  His backup, Billy Volek, scored the game-winning TD on a QB sneak. 

 Peyton Manning -  Manning threw for a ton of yards (402) and three scores.  The Chargers did something you don’t ever want to do.  They gave him not one, but two chances to add to his comeback totals.  It wasn’t there though.  He took some odd shots down field when they just needed to move the chains, and he look panicky throwing incompletions in his last two fourth down attempts.  He was facing pressure both times, but not to the point where he couldn’t have planted both of his feet and fire a strike rather than attempting on off-balance miracle.  If he hung in tough and took the hit to deliver a better pass, we’d be talking about another Patriots-Colts playoff game.

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Photo courtesy of David J. Griffin/Icon SMI 
(It says Months under the 9)

Tony Romo – The good news for Tony is that he has all the time in the world to take Yoko Romo to any paradise he sees fit.  Of course, the bad news is a second straight playoff game goes up in smoke.  Tom Brady dates hot, famous women.  I’ve never heard of him taking a vacation during a playoff run.  I’m not blaming Jessica Simpson, but Tony should have known better.

David Garrard – He played a near-perfect game.  Problem is almost have to be perfect in order to beat the Patriots.  Going into the game, the Jaguars running game and defense were considered to be the recipe that could spoil the Patriots chance at a true undefeated season.  Unfortunately for them, Bill Belichick had way too much time to prepare for them.  He basically took away the running game, and simply took what the defense gave him.  Garrard played an outstanding game.  He just had the misfortune of playing the New England Patriots.

Matt Hasselbeck – Matt played a decent game.  It’s tough playing on the road in the snow without a running game.  It didn’t help that D.J. Hackett and Deion Branch were limited.  Saturday just wasn’t his day.

 | Posted by | Categories: NFL | Tagged: Jessica Simpson |

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Photo courtesy of Shelly Castellano ICON SMI
(Photoshop work by Yours Truly – hence the amateur look)

 If you’ve been following basketball closely, you’ll know the following players have been playing out of their minds.  If not, it’s time to play catch up.  Here are some of the hottest players in the league.

Guards
Mo Williams
- In his last fourteen games, Mo is averaging 20.4 points, 3.5 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1.9 steals, and 1.5 three pointers.  He’s shooting 47.1% from the field and 88.9% from the line during that stretch.  He’s not the most well-known PG, but he’s a good one.

Jose Calderon - Jose was once featured in my NBA Waiver Wire Bin feature, but he’s continued his stellar play, and moved up to the “must start” ranks.  In his last 13 games, Jose is averaging 14.6 points, 4.0 rebounds, 9.0 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.2 three pointers per game.  He’s shooting an unbelievable 52.4% from the field and a solid 89.3% from the line.  He had two games in December with 16 assists.

Forwards
Hedo Turkoglu
- Hedo is another guy featured in my Waiver Wire Bin feature.  He started hot and has kept rolling.  In his last 15 games he’s averaging 19.9 points, 6.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.5 blocks, and 2.0 three pointers per game.  He’s shooting 43.7% from the field and 91.7% from the line.  He’s scored in double-figures in all but one game this year.

Mike Miller - Mike Miller is a force on offense.  He does it all.  In his last 15 games he’s averaged 17.9 points, 6.6 rebounds, and 4.5 assists, and 2.5 three pointers per game.  He’s shooting 54.4% from the floor and 83.3% from the line.  Most important is the fact that he’s staying healthy.

Centers
Samuel Dalembert
- Dalembert is a force on both sides of the ball.  In his past 14 games he’s averaging 12.4 points, 11.4 rebounds, and 2.8 blocks per game.  He’s shooting 54.6% from the field and 79.5% from the line.  He’s grabbed at least 14 rebounds in seven games during that stretch, including at least 15 in three of his past four games.

 | Posted by | Categories: Fantasy Basketball, NBA | Tagged: Fantasy Basketball, NBA |

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Three hundred wins is the magic number for a pitcher to join the Hall of Fame.  If you go slightly below that mark you’ll find Tommy John.

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Most young fans know his name for the surgery that has he made famous, but Tommy John was a heck of a pitcher too. He won 288 games (5th most among lefties) at a .555 winning percentage and a 3.34 ERA over a career that spanned 26 years. He also had a 6-3 record with a 2.65 ERA in postseason play. Tommy was a four-time All-Star and won the Hutch Award and the Lou Gehrig Memorial Award. He was in the top 10 in ERA and wins six times, Win-Loss % 10 times (led the league in ’74), Walks/9 innings pitched 12 times, Complete Games 4 times, and Shutouts 7 times (led the league three times). He injured the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm in 1974, and after a revolutionary surgical operation he was able to pitch until he was 46. For the amount of victories, the brilliant control he exhibited over his lengthy career, as well as his lasting mark on the game with the surgery he helped coin I believe Tommy John is overdue induction into baseball’s hallowed Hall.

UPDATE:  Upon further review I just don’t think Tommy John cuts it.  He was solid, but never one of the very best.  His win total is impressive, but not quite enough to merit induction.

References
http://www.baseball-reference.com/j/johnto01.shtml
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tommy_John

Past Chronicles
Bert Byleven
Andre Dawson
Dale Murphy
Mark McGwire
Bobby Matthews

 | Posted by | Categories: Cooperstown Chronicles, MLB |

A friend of mine (JDIN827) on SportingNews is asking for participation in the “Great Blog Crossover Challenge”. The assignment calls you to write about your least favorite player on your least favorite team.

I am going to do a two-parter. I can’t decide between Terrell Owens or Alex Rodriguez. Why not cover both? Since I dislike the Yankees more than the Cowboys, I’ll start with A-Rod.

A-Rod is easily one of the best ten players to ever strap on the cleats and step on a baseball diamond. He is a force on offense and usually a solid fielder. He gets a lot of bad ink for being a selfish player, but how many players would be willing to switch positions so easily? When you consider he’s a better shortstop than A-Rod, it makes it even more impressive. He gets a lot of heat for not showing up in the playoffs. What about the numbers he puts up to get his team into the playoffs? The playoffs are a much different animal than the regular season. Does he press a little too much? Probably. I just wonder why the fact that Barry Bonds is a .245 (.200 pre-steroids) hitter in the playoffs never comes up. Or the fact that Barry has just one pre-steroid playoff home run. How about Ted Williams only having one playoff appearance? Or the fact that he hit .200 without an extra-base hit and just one RBI. How about Willie Mays’ .247 playoff batting average with just one home run and ten RBI in 25 games. Just because their playoff numbers aren’t good, doesn’t mean they aren’t exceptional ball players. I know A-Rod gets plenty of heat that he deserves because of the position he puts himself in, but he gets much more than he should.

My other oh so favorite guys is Terrell Owens aka MeO aka Terrible Owens. I used to really like T.O. He is a gifted player who plays with a lot of emotions. I thought it was kind of funny when he celebrated on the Star. I liked the Sharpie celebration. Then he starts to badmouth Jeff Garcia and forces a trade to Baltimore. He gets mad at that and forces his way in Philadelphia. Everything started off so well. The Eagles were winning. T.O. and McNabb were setting the world on fire. Then he gets hurt. Most guys would have packed it in, but T.O. was determined to return. Was it to make more money and achieve more fame? I’m sure that accounts for some of his desire to return. I also think some has to be contributed to his love of football. Say what you want about the guy, he does love this game. He plays it as hard as anybody in the league. He brings a lot of baggage with him, but on that field he is determined to succeed. T.O. and Parcels clashed. Really? Who could have seen that coming? Wait, everybody could have. There really weren’t any T.O. issues this year. He came up with a goofy line about getting your popcorn ready, but I can’t get mad at a guy for being lame. Yesterday when the questions were swirling about how Yoko Romo (aka Jessica Simpson) is to blame or Tony Romo is to blame, he said “that they lost as a team”. Was he sincere? That’s the $25,000 question. Honestly, I think he was. He may have hammed it up a bit for the cameras, but I think he does have a good relationship with Romo and is upset with the unfair criticism he received. Blaming Jessica Simpson or Romo’s relationship with her for the loss is plain stupid. Was it wise for Romo to go on vacation during the playoffs? Probably not. However, I wouldn’t say that’s the reason they lost. The Giants were just a better team down the stretch, and it showed on Sunday.

There you have it. Even though I’m not fond of these guys, I am willing to go on record to say how good they are. One is the best player in baseball. The other is the best receiver not named Randy Moss.

 | Posted by | Categories: MLB, NFL | Tagged: Jessica Simpson |

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