Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ron Santo (HOF) One Down Two To Go

Say what you want about the late Ron Santo. He wore his heart on his sleeve.  It did not take much time to figure out the 3 things he was most passionate about:  1.  He loved the Cubs and wanted nothing more for them to break their century long World Series Championship drought.

2) He wanted to cure Juvenile Diabetes.  Not only did Santo, a diabetic, raise awareness of the disease through his playing career and subsequent broadcast career, he also raised over 60 million dollars for JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund)

3) He wanted to be enshrined in Cooperstown, New York in Baseball's Hall of Fame.

It was obvious that he wanted to achieve all of those goals in his lifetime and the consummate competitor would not be satisfied until those missions were accomplished.  On December 3, 2010 Santo passed away without achieving any of those lofty goals.

The most frustrating thing for me personally was the HOF snub. The other 2 goals will take much serendipity to accomplish, the HOF was a no-brainer.  He definitely had a HOF career as a third baseman for the northsiders.      I think 3 things shied voters away from voting for him when he was on the ballot as a player. 

1) He never got to the post season and did not have a chance to wow the casual fan and generate enthusiasm beyond Chicago and the National League.  There was no inter league play this time, so American League fans did not have much opportunity to see his body of work.

2) There were 3 more HOF worthy players on his own team.  These men Ferguson Jenkins, Billy Williams and Ernie Banks were so worthy of the Hall of Fame that they have all been enshrined there.  Many voters didn't seem to want to put a 4th player there when the Cubs had little or nothing to show for such an honor. 

3) He was no Brooks Robinson.  While Santo, in my opinion,  was definitely the best third baseman in the NL in his career, Robinson of the Baltimore Orioles was the best in the Majors.

I don't think that any of these reasons were valid enough to keep him out of the HOF in the original voting or when he appeared  on the Veteran's committee ballot.  For the above  mentioned reasons or others the voters decided he was not HOF material.

Until now. Almost a year to the day after his death Cooperstown has come calling.  The Ron Santo legacy is now 1/3 complete.  Now we need to find a way to beat Diabetes and a team in the World Series.


I wonder what team team they will enshrine him for?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Circus without a Circus Trip :(

Every year about this time in Chicago, like clockwork, a familiar pattern repeats itself. The Bulls begin their NBA season and almost as soon as it began they hit the road for thier longest trip of the year. This road trip is generally called the Circus trip as the trip is necessitated by the Ringling Brothers Barnum and Bailey Circus coming to town and landing smack dab @ the United Center AKA the house that Jordan built.

This year the NBA season has not gotten underway so while The Greatest Show on Earth must go on, it can do so without disturbing one of it's tenants. Sure the Blackhawks still have to take a Circus trip of their own, but hey that's just Hockey.

The Bulls loss can be your gain if you are in the Chicago area.

The circus will be at the United Center November 16th through the 27th

It will also be at the All State Arena in Rosemont starting tomorrow and running through the 13th.

I am passing on a special promotion for the event. You can get 4 tickets for $44.00 for weekday shows or save $4.00 per ticket on weekend *Friday -Sunday) shows.

So be a good sport and head over to the UC or ASA and have a great time.

For more info on the event click here to chck out my other blog.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Sports Fragments

After I began this blog I found out that managing two blogs is a little much for me. I basically have been lying low recently and not posting much of anything here. I have decided that from now to the end of the year I am going to try to post more regularly here.

Today I will start by participating in a meme called Friday Fragments.

It is basically where you just share bits and pieces that would normally not make it into your blog. Since this is a sports blog mine will all be sports related.

Fragment 1 I was mistaken for a Cubs fan today. I received a book today from paperback swap about the 1906 world series between the Cubs and the White Sox. There was a yellow stick from the previous owner that said go Cubs! Now, I am a follower of the Cubs and can speak intelligibly on them, but when it comes to the Sox and Cubs I am much more a fan of the White Sox.

It is kind of unusual for a White Sox fan to not hate the Cubs. I like the Cubs, they are my second favorite team. I grew up a Cubs fan and used to make the annual pilgrimage to Wrigley each year with my family. My 10 year old switched to the Cubs a few years ago. I indulge him this betrayal, as my father indulged me by taking me to about a White Sox game a year in my youth.

Fragment 2 Speaking of the Cubs, I think the move to get Theo Epstein from the Red Sox and have him serve in some capacity in the Front Office is a wonderful one. When that announcement is finalized, I will be interested to see what kind of moves they make. I am a big Ryne Sandberg fan and hope that one of Epstein's moves is to hire Sandberg to manage the team. We shall see.

Fragment 3 My son's soccer team went 7-0-1 last spring. This year most of his teammates and the coach moved up to the next age level. My son did not. He and the new coaches son are the only players that remain from last year's team. This year after 6 games the team is 3-2-1. I am assisting the coach on the sidelines during the games an even had to coach 2 of the games while our coach was out of town. We are 2-0 in those games, not that I'm keeping track :)

I am kind of glad that my son is on one of those win 1 week lose the next teams this year. I was afraid that going undefeated last season and only 1 defeat the season before that would give him the idea that such success is common. This year he is playing the best soccer he ever has and is enjoying himself and learning good life lessons win or lose.

Fragment 4 Now that the Rangers and the Cardinals are tied 1 game all in the 2011 World Series, it might be a good idea to share who I am rooting for.

This is a complex question for me. Normally, I cheer for the American League team as a victory bodes well for the White Sox. I also like to cheer for the team that hasn't won the World Series before or in a while. These two factors put me in the Texas Rangers camp. The Cardinals won it all in 2006 and while the Rangers finally made it to the World Series for the first time last year, thwy did not win.

On the other side of the coin, I like the Cardinals. They are like the Minnesota Twins of the N.L., they always seem to end up in the mix each year even when they are not expected to. Tony LaRussa who led the White Sox to their first playoff appearance is now the long time manager of the Cards. Also when I coached T-Ball for 2 years our team was the Cardinals. Also, John Rooney one of the announcers for the 2005 White Sox, and quite possibly the best play by play man in the business is now an announcer for the Cardinals.

So basically I am torn. My tradition based rooting system says Rangers and my root for the people I like mentality says Cardinals. I am hoping for a 7 game series and don't really mind which way it goes.

That's all the fragments I have for now. Check out the rest of Friday Fragments at Half Past Kissing Time by clicking here.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

White Sox Week in Review

On my other blog I participate in a little meme called Six Word Saturday. I have done it here before. The skinny is you give your six words and if you want you can explain them. So, now that we've explained that go review the title of this post.

Here are my six words:

I go to work. Sox lose.

Last Friday, I started a job at a box factory. It is an assignment from a temp company. I work the second shift 3-11. We didn't work on Monday as it was the 4th of July. Since then every day this week the White Sox have played or finishing playing while I have been making boxes. They now have lost 4 games in a row. This may not seem like a big deal. But it is. Box making is hard work and generally speaking my family is asleep when I get home, I would like a bit of good news like say a White Sox victory. Also, last week they got to .500 for the first time since early April. For those stopping in from Six Word Saturday who might not know what .500 means it means they have won as many games as they've lost. Now with these 4 losses they are back to below .500 where they will remain through the All Star break and perhaps the rest of their season.

Maybe if I quit my job they will start winning again. Although back then they only won 1/2 the time and I didn't get paid. So, I think I'll keep working.

For more Six Word Saturday click here.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Not sure why he didn't make it the first time.

But you can still vote Paul Konerko into the all star game by clicking here and voting him in in the final vote.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Good Lorenzo Charles Reflection.

I was staying up late working on my other blog, tweeting and watching the White Sox lose yet another extra inning game when I saw a tweet from a former pastor of mine regarding this piece at SI.COM. For whatever reason I felt compelled to link it here.

Maybe it's because my last post here was about the NCAA tournament. Maybe because I remember the 1983 NCAA Finals very well because I graduated high school this year. Maybe it's because Lorenzo Charles was 47 and I'll turn 47 in a few months. Not sure exactly why I am sharing it here. But, like my pastor tweeted, it's a great article by a great sports writer. This is also a golden basketball moment . . .

My thoughts, condolences and prayers go out toLorenzo's friends and family.

Hopefully I'll post here again before another former pastor tweets about some sports moment. I was waiting to post until the Sox got rolling again. As Dr. Phil would ask "How is that working?"

Saturday, March 19, 2011

NCAA Round 2 Bracket Progress

Day 3. Dave -Winners: West Virginia, Kentucky, Cincinnati, U. Conn, Temple, San Diego State, Richmond, Pitt, Butler, Kansas State,Wisconsin, Gonzaga, BYU, Florida . Losers: Louisville points lost: 4.5, Michigan State points lost 1.

Amy - Winners: West Virginia, Kentucky, Cincinnati, U. Conn, Temple, San Diego State,Pitt, Butler. Kansas State, Wisconsin, Gonzaga, BYU, UCLA, Florida. Losers: Vanderbilt points lost 1, Louisville points lost 7.5.


Day 4. Dave- Winners: Ohio State, Marquette, Syracuse, North Carolina, Duke, Michigan, Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Illinois, Purdue, Fla. State, Notre Dame. Losers: Villanova points lost 1, Georgia points lost 1.

Amy - Winners: Ohio State, George Mason, Syracuse, Washington, North Carolina, Duke, Michigan, Arizona, Texas, Kansas, Purdue, Notre Dame. Losers: Xavier points lost 1, University of Nevada Las Vegas points lost 1, Georgetown points lost 1, Texas A&M points lost 1.

Results after 2 rounds:

points earned

Dave: 28.5 (1.5, 27)

Amy: 27 (1,26)

Possible Remaining Points:

Dave: 91

Amy: 86.5

Thursday, March 17, 2011

NCAA Round 1 Bracket Progress

As I said last time Amy and I have embarked on a bracket with 100 possible points. Instead of writing down everyteam we picked here. I will just check in after the end of the round tell you where we moved and where we lost ground.

Day 1. Dave - Winners: Clemson and UNC Ashville
Amy - Winners: Clemson Losers:Arkansas Little Rock points lost .5

Day 2. Dave - Winners: University of Texas - San Antonio, Losers: Southern Cal points lost 1.5*
Day 2. Amy - Winners: Univerity if Texas - San Antonio. Losers: Southern Cal points lost .5*

Round 1 results
points earned
Dave: 1.5
Amy: 1
Possible remaining points:
Dave 98.5*
Amy 99*

*The amount of points lost can differ even when Amy and I picked the same team. This will differ when one of us picked the team to progress futher than the other. For example Amy had Southern Cal losing in the second round so she only lost the 1/2 point that USC failed to win in the first round. I on the other hand picked U.S.C to win in the second round as well so I lost the point I expecting them to earn in the second round as well as the point they failed to earn in the first.

Even though I currently have more points than Amy does she has a potential for 99 whereas my celing because of the U.S.C loss is 98.5

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

NCAA Tournament Picks - A Precursor

I love systems. Back in the good old days when the NCAA tournament was 64 teams I had a great dare I say perfect 120 point system for scoring the NCAA tournament picks. There were 6 rounds. 32 games and winners in the first round. 16 in the second. Eight in the third. four in the fourth. Two in the semifinals and one game in the 6th round to determine the eventual champion. If you pick a team to go to the second round and they do you get 1 point if they don't zero. Pick a second round winner and you get two more points. Three for third round winners. 4 for when your team advanced to the final four. Five if they make it to the Championship game. Six more if the won it all.

So if you picked Duke to win it all last year, like I did you would net 21 points on the Blue Devils alone. I love my system because it was incremental and elegant. I loved the way the numbers broke down per round 32 possible points in round 1 32 more in round 2. Which made for 64 possible points in the opening weekend. 24 possible points in round 3 and16 more were available to the successful prognosticator in round 4 for 40 total points in the second weekend of the tournament.
In my system, many people are eliminated by the second weekend as there are only 16 points available onc you whittle the teams to four. It's how you pick the second and third round that often make you victorious among your peers.

When a few years back they expanded the field to 65, I had no real problem with it. The play-in game was scored as a1/2 point if you picked the victor. This would make for an excellent tie-breaker.

This year the field was expanded to 68 teams and instead of a tiebreaker a 7th round was added to the schedule. Using my current system it made for a rather inelegant 122 point tournament. Revamping my system to have 1 point for round 1 winners 2 point for second round winners up to 7 for the champion yielded a cumbersome 171 point total. The point distribution was very lopsided as well with 96 points in rounds 2 and 3 alone. I was going mad trying to decide between the two flawed systems and each time I would explain it to my wife, she would say you need guys!

I finally figured out a great system for scoring a 68 team single elimination tournament. At least one that has 64 teams in the second round. 1/2 point for picking a round 1 winner 1 point for a round 2 winner and 1.5 points more for making it the sweet sixteen. 2 points for picking a team who makes it all the way to the elite 8, 3 points for picking a final four team, 4 points for your team making it all the way to the championship game and 6 points for winning the whole ball of wax.

It's incremental, but not elegant and what I like best about it: The total points of the tournament now equal 100 which turns out to be elegant after all. Well at least I have a functional system until the committee messes with the number of teams again.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Six Word Saturday.

I am a frequent contributor to Six Word Saturday from my main blog. In addition to the six I penned from HSD I have a sports related Six to share here:

Pitchers and Catchers report. Nuff' Said!

This past week spring training began for all major league baseball teams and the Royals and Nationals as well. (Just kidding K.C. and D.C.) It is one of my favorite times of the year. Each team can start afresh. There is a revitalization and renewal in the Arizona and Florida air. A "this could be the year." mentality percolates in the hearts and minds of fans, players, managers and owners alike.

The pitchers and catchers report in about a week earlier than the position players to start getting ready for the season. I am very excited about all the White Sox moves during the off season and am curious to see how they will gel in Spring Training. I was a little disappointed that Ryne Sandberg did not get the managerial gig on the North Side, But I am interested to see how Camp Quade will shake out.

Soon enough opening day will roll around, but lets enjoy the hopefulness that is Spring Training while we can. For more Six Word Saturday click here.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

No 25th Anniversary Present for Da Bears!

The Chicago Bears were unable to win the most important game in their storied rivalry between the Green Bay Packers. They fell to the Cheeseheads 21-14 in a game where the winner advanced to the Super Bowl. The Pack will either play the Steelers or the Jets in 2 weeks time.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Hall of Fame 2011 Votes and Picks

It's time to tell you who I would vote for IF I was a voting member of the BBWAA.

Too bad I don't have time to go into more detail. Like many of these players prospects, maybe next year.

If I had 10 votes, the 10th vote would go to Edgar Martinez (1 down from last year)

If I had 9 votes, the 9th vote would go to Larry Walker. (new on the ballot)

If I had 8 votes the 8th vote would go to Bert Blyt leven (1 up from last year)

If I had 7 votes the 7th vote would go to Dale Murphy (same as last year but not on "official" ballot this time.)

If I had 6 votes the 6th vote would go to Fred McGriff( up 2 from last year.)

Which brings us to my official unofficial ballot. There are 5 candidates who I would vote to for the Hall of Fame if I had the vote. Last year there were 7 I would have sent to Cooperstown. Murphy, I decided was not quite worthy of the honor. Robin Ventura failed to get 5 %of the vote last year and Andre Dawson was elected to the Hall. This leaves 4 from my ballot last year and 1 newcomer.

If I could only have 5 votes, my 5th vote would be for Lee Smith. Smith is up one place on my ballot from last year.

If Icould vote for only 4, my 4th and final would be cast to former Houston star Jeff Bagwell.

If my maximum vote # could only be 3 the third vote would go to Roberto Alomar. This is one spot up from where I placed him last year.

If I was limited to only 2 votes my second vote would be for Harold Baines. This is one up from where I had him a year ago.

If I could only vote for who I thought was the most deserving Hall of Fame candidate this year, my vote would go to Tim Raines. This is also 1 place up from where I had him last year.

That's who I would vote for. But now let me put my prognosticators hat on. I think there will be 2 players elected this year. Alomar and Blyleven. I think 4 first timers will receive 5 % or more of the vote. If I had to guess who I would say Kevin Brown and Rafaeal Palmeiro in addition to Walker and Bagwell. If it's not 4 I believe it will be more not less.

So those are my votes and picks. I can't wait to find out what will happen.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

HOF 2011 returning players

Last week I promised some insightful commentary on the hall of fame voting that will be announced tomorrow. I was quite busy during the holidays and ran out of time to be able to go into as much detail as I did last year. Here is some info on all those returning to the ballot in 2011 by order of who has been on longest. Much of this is a rehash of last year's posts but I have included the 2010 voting performance as well.

Dave Parker is on the ballot for his 15th and final year . Parker played for 19 seasons beginning with the Pittsburgh Pirates (1973-1983) and ending his career with the Toronto Blue Jays in 1991. In between he played for the Cicinnati Reds (1984-1987), Oakland A's 1988-1989, Milwaukee Brewers 1990, and California Angels (1991). When Parkers playing days came to a close he had amassed 2712 total hits, 339 homers and a lifetime batting average of .290. He played outfield for his most of career where he won 3 consecutive gold gloves (77-79) and was DH the majority of his last 4 seasons. Parker was the 1978 NL MVP, runner up in 1985, a 7 time all star and the all star MVP in 1979.

Parker has been on the ballot since 1997 his best year came in 1998 when he received 24.5 % of the vote. In 2005 Parker had 12.6% of the vote and was up to 15.2% in last years balloting.

Analysis : Players on the 15th ballot who eventually make the Hall in the BBWWA process generally are increasing in % of votes year after year and closing in on the 75% mark. Jim Rice, For an example who was voted in in his 15th year in 2009 received 64.8 % in his 12th election, 71.2% in his 13th, 72.2% in his penultimate election and received 76.4 % when he entered the Hall. Rice's low water mark of 29.4 % in his 5th election is 5 percentage points better than Parker did in his best year. Outlook: Nothing shy of a miracle will make Parker a Hall of Famer on the writer's ballot.

Bert Blyleven is on the ballot for his 14th year. Blyleven began his career pitching for the Minnesota Twins (1970-1976), spent a season and a half with the Texas Rangers (76-77), 3 seasons with the Pittsburgh Pirates (78-80) 4 and a half years with the Cleveland Indians followed by a return trip to Minnesota (1985-1988) and ended his playing days with the California Angels (89-92). Blyleven retired with a lifetime era of 3.31, 3701 strikeouts and 13 wins shy of the 300 mark. While Blyleven helped 2 teams win the World Series (Pittsburgh 79 and Minnesota 1987) with a combined 2-1 record and 2.35 ERA his trophy cabinet does seem to be shy of personal accolades. He had no gold gloves, only 2 all star appearances and never finished higher than 3rd in Cy Young voting.

Blyleven has been on the HOF ballot since 1998 when like Parker he received 17.5% in his first opportunity. Last year was his best showing as he received 74.2% of the vote. He has gained almost 35 percentage points in the last 5 years (Blyleven received 40.2 % in 2005).

Analysis and outlook: Looking again at Rice for comparison we find that Blyleven 74.2% last year in his 13th election is superior to Rice 63.5% at the same time in the process. 3 years. Considering that Blyleven missed election by less than a percentage point last year, he should be a shoe-in this time around.

Dale Murphy on the ballot for the 13th year played the majority of his career with the Atlanta Braves (1976-1990). He played 2 and a half seasons with the Philadelphia Phillies (1990-1992) and played in 26 games with the Colorado Rockies in 1993. Murphy held a lifetime batting average of .265, had 2,111 hits and 398 home runs. Murphy started as a catcher with the braves but played the majority of his games in the outfield. He was elected to 7 all star games, received 5 consecutive gold glove awards (82-86) 4 consecutive silver slugger awards (82-85) and 2 consecutive MVP seasons (82+83).

Murphy received 19.3% of the vote in 1999, his first year on the ballot. His high water mark was in 2000 where he received 20.8%. In 2004 he reached his low mark only appearing on 8.5 % of the ballots.In 2005 he raised that mark to 10.5% He has gained A meager 2.2% points between the election of 2005 and 2010.

Analysis and outlook: A serious HOF contender on his 13th ballot would be dramatically better positioned than Mr. Murphy. While his overall prospects are not as immediately bleak as Parkers, There is nothing in the voting record to show that Murphy will ever get in on the writer's ballot.

Jack Morris is on the ballot for the twelfth year. Morris pitched for the Detroit Tigers from 1977 to 1990, the Minnesota Twins in 1991, the Toronto Blue Jays in 1992 & 1993 and finished his career with the Cleveland Indians in 1994. Morris finished with an era of .390, 2,478 strikeouts and 254 wins. Morris won World Series championships with 3 teams (Detroit 84, Minnesota 91 and Toronto 92) He had a 4-2 World Series and a 2.96 ERA. His individual trophy case is as barren as Bylevens with the exception of the 1991 World Series MVP and 5 all star appearances as compared to Bert's 2.

Morris has been on the HOF ballot since 2000 when he appeared on 22.2 % of the ballots. His best year was last year when he received 52.3% support an increase of 19 percentage points since 2005.

Analysis: With 4 years left on the ballot Morris is in a preferable but somewhat tenuous position. Last year Morris was only 2 points behind where Blyleven prior to his eleventh election. Blyleven was able to increase 14 percentage points on the road to his present favorable position. Last year I said that If Morris needed a double digit surge in one or two of the next few elections in order to avo id being on the outside looking in when his 15 years are up. Morris came close to that double digit increase last year when he raised 8.3 % from 44 to his present 52.3. The math says that incremental increases like that will get him to Cooperstown.

Don Mattingly is on his 11th year of the ballot. Mattingly played his entire career (1982-1995) as a first baseman for the New York Yankees. In Mattingly's 14 seasons for the Bronx Bombers he hit 222 home runs, maintained a lifetime average of .307 and had 2153 career hits. Mattingly made 6 all star teams, won 9 gold glove awards (85-89 + 91-94) and 3 consecutive silver slugger awards (85-87). He was the American League MVP in 1985 and the runner-up in 1986.

Mattingly has been on the ballot since 2001 garnering 28.2 % of the vote that year. 2001 was also the year he received the most support. He has only been on 20% or more of the ballots twice (the other year being 2002). He has gained almost 4 percentage points of support in the past 5 years (11.4 in 2005 and 16.1 in 2010).

Anaylysis and Outlook. Mattingly's 28.2% in 2001 would have made a good point to build on, instead his % decreases for a few years then increase for a few and then goes back down Jack Morris and Bert Blyleven both had less votes than Mattingly did in 2001 but by 2010 Blyleven had more than 4 times the votes Mattingly had and Morris had more than 3 times more. With 5 elections left Mattingly's only legitimate chance of being voted in by the BBWAA is by increasing his support about 12 percentage points each year and given his up and down history that does not seem likely.

Alan Trammell is on the ballot for the tenth year. He played his entire career for the Detroit Tigers from 1977 to 1996. While he played occasional other positions for the Tigers including DH, He predominately played shortstop and did so each season he was in the major leagues. Trammell was a 6 time all star (80, 84,85,87,88, & 90), 4 time gold glove recipient, (80,81,83 and 84), 3 time Silver Slugger winner (87,88 &90) and the 1984 World Series MVP. In 1987 He was runner up for the AL MVP award. Alan hit .285 for the Tigers with 2365 hits and 185 Home Runs.
Like Andre Dawson who reached the magic 75% and was inducted last year, Trammel has been on the ballot since 2002. Unlike Dawson, Trammell has never even come close to the 75% needed for election. He was on 15.7% of the ballots in his first year of eligibility, was up to 16.9% in 2005 and hit a high water mark of 22.4% in 2010.

Analysis and outlook: In his first 8 elections Trammels support had been consistently in the teens. Event though he broke into the 20's last year, I have no sense of a wide spread appeal for putting Trammell into the Hall.

Lee Smith the lone returning relief pitcher is on his 9th year on the ballot. Smith pitched from 1980 to 1997. Beginning with the Chicago Cubs (1980-1987), then playing 2 and a half seasons with the Boston Red Sox (88-90), parts of 4 seasons with the St. Louis Cardinals (90-93). His later years he played on the New York Yankees (93), Baltimore Orioles (94). California Angels (95,96), Cincinnati Reds (96), and Montreal Expos 1997. He had a lifetime ERA of 3.03, 1,251 strike outs and 478 saves. Smith was chosen for 7 all star games (83,87,91-95). He was second in Cy Young voting in 1991 the year he won the first of his 2 consecutive NL Rolaids Relief awards for the Cardinals. He won the AL version of the award in 94 with the Orioles.

Smith has been on the ballot in 2003 when he received 42.3% of the vote. He dropped down to 36.6% of the vote in 2004 and in the last 5 years has seen that percentage rise from 38.3 in 2005 to a high water mark of 47.3% in the last election.

Analysis and Outlook: Smith's initial vote count and his current standing bode well for eventual enshrinement when viewed separately. Looking at them together makes one wonder why he has only moved up 5 percentage points in 8 elections. If whatever has been keeping him stuck in the 40's resolves himself there is plenty of time for Smith to get to Cooperstown.

Harold Baines who is on the ballot for the 5th year. Baines began and finished his MLB career with the Chicago White Sox. He actually played for the pale hose on 3 different occasions (80-89, 96-97, 2000-2001) In between he played with the Texas Rangers, (89,90) 3 stints with the Baltimore Orioles (93-95, 97-99, 2000), Oakland A's (90-92), and the Cleveland Indians in 1999. Baines approached the 3000 hit mark late in his career but finished well under with 2,866 hit 384 homers and had a life time batting average of .289. Baines, a six time all star (85,86,87,89,91, and 99) spent most of the 1980's as an outfielder and spent the 2nd half his career as a DH.

Baines first appeared on the ballot in 2007 appearing on 5.3% of the completed ballots. He had 5.2 % in 2008 ,5.9 % in 2009 and 6.1% last year.

Analysis and Outlook: With 11 elections remaining, it is too early to write Baines off entirely. However, just a small decrease in his support over the past 4 years would remove him from the ballot altogether.

Mark McGwire is also on his 5th year on the ballot. I would generally tell you what teams he played for and the statistics he compiled over his career, but as McGwire infamously once noted I am not here to talk about the past.Actually I am here to talk about the past so I will tell you that McGwire played for the Oakland A's form 1986 to 1997 and played for the St. Louis Cardinals from 1997 to 2001. He hit 583 home runs and once held the single season home run record at 70. The first baseman had 1626 career hits with a lifetime batting average of .263. McGwire was the 1987 Rookie of the year, won a gold glove in 1990, silver slugger awards in 92,96,and 98. The 12 time all star (87-92 and 95-2000) was the runner-up for the NL MVP in 1998.

McGwire first appeared on the hall of fame ballot in 2007 with 23.5% of the vote, had 23.6% in 2008, 21.6 % in 2009 and 23.7% of the completed ballots last year.

Anaylisis and Outlook: With career numbers alone McGwire would probably already be in the hall or be at least 30 - 40 more percentage points closer. Allegations and speculation about steroid use and his aforementioned inability to talk about the past has radically cut off his support. I don't expect his numbers to improve anytime soon.

Tim Raines is on the ballot for his 4th year. He played for the Montreal Expos (1979-1990 and 2001) Chicago White Sox (1991-1995) New York Yankees (1996-1998), Oakland A's (2000), Baltimore Orioles (2001) and finished up with the Florida Marlins in 2002. Raines had 2605 hits, 808 stolen bases and a lifetime batting average of .294. Raines played in seven straight all star games (1981-1987 and was the 1987 all star MVP. He won a Silver Slugger award in 1986 the year he led the National League with a .334 batting average.Raines first year on the ballot was 2008 when he received 24.3 % of the vote. In 2009 he was down to 22.6% but increased to 30.4% last year.

Analysis and Outlook: Receiving over 20% of the vote on your first two ballots and over 30 on your third is a pretty good way to start your bid for hall of fame induction. I also feel that Rickey Henderson's election on the first ballot in 2009 will ultimately increase his chances in the years to come as he is such a similar player to Henderson.

Roberto Alomar is on the ballot for the second year. He played (predominantly second base) for 7 teams (Padres, Blue Jays, Orioles, Indians, Mets, White Sox, Diamond Backs) over 17 seasons. Lifetime .300 batting average. More than 2700 hits. More than 200 home runs. Within 25 of the 500 steal mark. 12 All Star appearances. 1 All Star MVP. 10 gold gloves, 4 silver sluggers and 1 alcs MVP. Best MVP voting = 3rd

Alomar received 73.7% of the vote last year in his first election.

Analysis and Outlook: Alomar was just spitting distance (sorry could not resist) from induction last year. In my mind he is a no doubter for enshrinement come the summer.

Barry Larkin is also on the ballot for his second year. He played (predominantly shortstop) for 19 seasons with the Cincinnati Reds. Over 2300 hits 2 shy of 200 homers and a lifetime batting average of .295 and over 350 stolen bases. A 12 time All Star, with 3 Golden Gloves and 9 Silver Sluggers, Larkin was the 1995 National League MVP.

Last year Larkin received more than half (51.6%) of the writer's votes in his first election.

Analysis and Outlook: Larkin finished 4th among those returning to this year's ballot and second only to Alomar for first timers. He did much better than I anticipated his first time out of the gate and should be considered a very strong candidate for eventual enshrinement.

Edgar Martinez is on the ballot for the second year.He played 18 seasons (predominantly DH) for the Seattle Mariners. Over 2200 hits, 9 above the 300 HR mark and a career batting average of .312. Martinez was selected to 7 all star games, and won 5 silver slugger awards. Best MVP voting = 3rd.

Martinez received more than 1/3 (36.2%) of the writers votes in 2010.

Analysis and Outlook: A strong showing in 2010 may change the mind of those who say that a full time DH who was generally the second or third best offensive player on his squad is not HOF material. The next few elections will definitely show which way he is trending.

Fred McGriff is 1 of 4 players on the ballot for the second year. He played (predominantly 1B for 6 teams (Rays, Braves, Blue Jays, Braves, Cubs, Dodgers) over 19 seasons. McGrifff posted a lifetime batting average of .284 with 10 shy of 2,500 hits and missing the 500 homer mark by 7. A 5 time all star with 1 all star MVP award and 3 Silver Sluggers. Best MVP Voting = 4th.

McGriff's name appeared on more than 1 of every 5 writers (21.5%) ballots last year.

Analysis and Outlook: If the criteria for selection was just nicknames alone, the Crime Dog would have been a first ballot hall of famer. I think his accomplishments are deserving of having him in the conversation for years to come. 20% of the voters in his first year was a pretty good chunk let's see how many more he can take a bite out of.

I will return tomorrow prior to the announcement and to say how I would have voted given 10 votes as I did last year. I will also prognosticate as to who I think will be voted in.

I will unfortunately not be able to discuss at all the first timers on the ballot.