Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Could Chicago baseball fans wind up rooting for pair of Expos to make Hall?

It’s not likely there will be many Chicago baseball stories to tell Wednesday night when we learn who, if anyone, will be the newly-elected members of the baseball Hall of Fame.
Rest of world will see MB, while we'll see Old English

The officials in Cooperstown, N.Y., are scheduled to announce their new members during an evening ceremony, with the new members being inducted during summertime ceremonies.

NOW I DON’T have a ballot, or any say, in who gets picked. So this isn’t one of those columns written by someone justifying why they picked who they did and informing the world why they’re wrong for disagreeing with them.

I’m just a fan. Someone who has watched countless ballgames throughout the past four decades and has devoted too much of my life to following the activities of the American and National leagues (usually rooting for the former).

I’m realistic enough to know that one-time White Sox Magglio Ordoñez or former Cub Derrek Lee aren’t going to be honored. In fact, if you’re determined to pay attention only to a Chicago angle, then you’ll be obsessed with whether or not one-time Cubbie slugger Sammy Sosa gets enough votes to even remain on the Hall of Fame ballot for future years.
Ramos, Pate will see their baseball card values boost

Or will this be the year he finally fades into anonymity; quite an outcome for the guy who two decades ago was one of baseball’s biggest names. But now has to deal with the “s-word” tagged to his name, even though there is no hard evidence (nothing admissible in court) that would convince people he used steroids.

WE’LL JUST FORGET those three seasons (1998, 1999 and 2001) when he managed 60 or more home runs in a season – a feat NO OTHER ballplayer can come close to matching.

An unsung beisbol star
Personally, I’m intrigued to see what becomes of Tim Raines and Vladimir Guerrero – a pair of outfielders who had their best years playing for the no-longer-existing Montreal Expos.

If I had any say, I’d vote for the two of them, without caring about anyone else on the ballot. Although I’m sure there are those who will disagree about either being included and will be particularly outraged that I don't care about their own 'pet' player (such as Ivan Rodriguez or Larry Walker).

Should he really overshadow Raines?
Raines was a star player of the 1980s who managed to keep playing ball into the 21st Century. He was a base stealer; he could run and stir up offensive activity.

ALTHOUGH THERE ARE those modern fans who think the stolen base is overrated (foolish them) and don’t care that Raines has more stolen bases than all but three other players. It doesn’t help that one of those three is a Raines contemporary – the famed Rickey Henderson.

While I see Raines as one of the best ever, they merely see the second-best of his own era. Which is nonsensical!

Raines, however, could wind up becoming the closest we get to a legitimate Chicago angle. For he also played for the Chicago White Sox in the early 1990s and was a part of that 1993 ballclub that won a division title (hitting .444 and scoring five runs in the playoffs against the ultimate World Series champion Toronto Blue Jays).
Top base thieves of all-time, not just '81

He also returned to Chicago in the mid-2000s for three seasons – which made him a first base coach for that World Series-winning team the White Sox had in 2005.

AS FOR GUERRERO, there isn’t a hard Chicago connection – he played for the Los Angeles Angels, Baltimore Orioles and Texas Rangers, along with Montreal. But one of the funniest moments I ever saw in a ballpark took place at Wrigley Field and involved Guerrero.
Will he get another chance next year?

It was 2003 and the Expos were in town to play the Cubs in what turned out to be one of the last games they played here before relocating to Washington, D.C. Guerrero hit a home run not only over the left field wall, but over the bleachers and out onto Waveland Avenue.

Cubs fans gathered outside the ballpark tried to partake in the tradition of throwing back a home run ball hit by a visiting team player – only the people out there had such weak throwing arms that they couldn’t get the ball back into the ballpark. Their tosses kept hitting the screen that offered protection to nearby homeowners.

Truly worth a chuckle to see the effort by Cubs fans, who showed us firsthand that day why none of them were playing for the Cubs.


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