By In Stuff

Links and Thoughts 6/4

In Los Angeles getting ready for some Kings-Blackhawks hockey. Here are a few links and thoughts:

— Link: The Big Read: Tim Duncan.

— Thought: Spent the weekend at the Salute to the Negro Leagues in San Diego. It was fabulous in so many ways — but probably the best part was how much of his heart Dave Winfield puts into it. It’s a funny thing being a retired Hall of Famer. You can go a lot of different ways. Winfield still cares so much about the game that he gives all of himself (for no glory or reward) to keep the salute going (even though San Diego as a city really has no connection to the Negro Leagues) and to keep the memories alive of these great players. Good on ya, Dave.

— Link: The French Open has always been my favorite tennis tournament … and also, in many ways, the hardest one to watch. The grueling Venus Williams match was Exhibit A.

— Thought: Speaking of the Negro Leagues Salute, Minnie Minoso was there. Now, there are compelling arguments and counter-arguments about whether Minoso belongs in the Hall of Fame. I think he does, and I can give three quick reasons (we’re almost at face-off time!):

  1. You can make a strong case that he was the second best player in the American League in the 1950s behind Mickey Mantle. This and this alone might not be enough — I’m leery of these “best of the decade” arguments, and you could also argue that Ted Williams or Yogi Berra were better than Minoso — but it’s a good place to start. Minoso hit .306/.400/.476 in the 1950s, led over the decade in doubles and stolen bases and was top five in everything else, won Gold Gloves the first three years of the award, and did all this despite starting his career in the Negro Leagues before Jackie Robinson crossed the color line.
  2. He was a pioneer, the first black baseball player in Chicago — which, at the time, was perhaps the American center of African American activity. But, unlike Jackie Robinson and Larry Doby and other pioneers, he was also from Cuba and had to deal with a severe language barrier. He handled himself beautifully.
  3. Minoso’s age has been a point of contention for a long time. For a long time, it was thought he did not start with Chicago until he was 28. Now, the case seems to be he was 25. But as people close to Minoso say, “Nobody REALLY knows how old he is.” I think it’s fair to say he certainly overcame a tremendous amount to become an iconic player and a great player.

The stunt stuff late in his career — pinch-hitting at age 50 and then again at age 54 so he could play in five decades — was silly but in fun. I’ve heard people say that has kept him from the Hall of Fame, that he made a mockery of the game or something I think that’s absolutely ridiculous.

I guess my overriding point is this: I don’t know if Minnie Minoso is a Hall of Famer. I’d vote for him, but I certainly see the counter argument. But here’s what I would say — and I say this after spending so much time with Buck O’Neil in his later year: If they are going to put him in, do it while he’s alive. They waited until after Ron Santo was gone, and that was just painful and wrong.

— Link: I wrote how excited I was going into Game 7 of the Pacers-Heat series because it would put LeBron James in the spotlight, where he would undoubtedly do something epic. He played brilliantly but in truth the whole game was a disappointment. The Pacers simply did not ask compelling questions of the Heat or LeBron and the game was over by halftime. I don’t know how the Spurs will match up with the Heat, but I’m eager to find out.

— Thought: I don’t normally read crime novels or courtroom novels but someone recommended Defending Jacob: A Novel by William Landay, and I have to say it was pretty great. Well, “great” might not be exactly the right description — sounds too cheery. It was haunting and engrossing. I can’t get it out of my head.

— Link: RIP Deacon Jones, the man who invented and perfected the sack.

3 Responses to Links and Thoughts 6/4

  1. rcharbon says:

    Unresolved posterisk in the Deacon story.

  2. Rob Smith says:

    I was a Rams fan when Deacon Jones was on the team. Along with Merlin Olson, Rosy Grier and the rest of the Fearsome Foursome (there were different other members), they were in the backfield on practically every play. They just blew up the other teams offense play after play. The only semi modern example I can give was the Bears the year they won the Super Bowl in the 80s…. and even that doesn’t capture the havoc the Fearsome Foursome created.

    The other thing I remember about Deacon Jones was at the Pro Bowl, which was at the LA Colisium back in the day. Well, Deacon actually tried to come out and sign autographs. He was immediately mobbed and the scene turned ugly so he got upset with everyone and (rightfully) left. But Roman Gabriel and the other Rams at the game never even attempted to go out and sign autographs, so I always have a warm spot in my heart for him because he did try to come out and interact with the fans

  3. Mark Daniel says:

    Minnie Minoso is interesting to me. I never saw him play, and had little opinion of him prior to a few years ago, but then I started reading more about him when everyone was debating the merits of Jim Rice for the HoF. One pro-Jim Rice thing I read was about Baseball-reference’s “Gray Ink Score”, which represents how often a player finishes in the top 10 of the league. It’s an old-school measurement, as it assigns various point scores to only these categories – HR, RBI, BA, runs, hits, SLG, 2B, BB, SB, G, AB, and 3B, with categories at the front of the list getting more points that the ones at the end, as I listed them.

    They broke the players down into the post-integration, pre-steroid era, which constituted about 50 years, give or take (1945-1994 or something like that)

    What I read about Minoso was that he was the “only” non-HoFer with a Gray Ink score higher than Jim Rice’s. That wasn’t true, because Pete Rose is also above Rice, but I think everybody believes he would be a mortal lock HoFer if it weren’t for the whole “banned from baseball” thing.
    Anyway, here are the top 20 players, from the era described above, as determined by Gray Ink score.
    1. Aaron, 408
    2. Mays, 337
    3. F. Robinson, 320
    4. Mantle, 272
    5. Rose, 239
    6. Kaline, 228
    7. Schmidt, 224
    8. B. Williams, 208
    9. Yaz, 206
    10. Cepeda, 196
    11. Killebrew, 193
    12. Minoso, 189
    13. Snider, 183
    14. Murray, 181
    15. Rice, 176
    16. R. Jackson, 175
    17. Banks, 167
    18. Dawson, 164
    19. Dick Allen, 159
    20. Brett, 159

    This metric was created, I think, to try to predict who would be a HoFer. In doing this, they used the presence of HoFers at the top of the list to validate the score. So it’s not surprising that all sorts of HoFers are at the top of this list; they are there deliberately because that is the purpose of the metric. Thus, I think it’s very telling that Minnie Minoso is in the list as well, especially considering that he’s pretty high up there (#12).

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