Happy birthday, Cliff! - Mike Zarrilli
The arbitrary arbiters of the HOF vote Santo in, keep Gil out.
One year ago today, Gil Hodges was snubbed yet again by the Hall of Fame’s Veterans Committee, despite the fact that his numbers across the board are superior to those of Ron Santo, who was, deservedly, admitted to the Hall that day. The problem may be that Hodges was a first-baseman and therefore unfairly judged by a higher offensive standard. That said, Hodges’ batting stats are comparable, and in some ways superior, to two HOF first-sackers, Eddie Murray and Orlando Cepeda, not to mention a number of outfielders whose careers overlapped or followed his. (I’m not going to overwhelm this space with statistics. As Casey Stengel would say, "You could look it up.")
"Gil Hodges is a Hall of Fame man." - Roy Campanella, HOF catcher
In Hodges’ day, first base was often a place to "hide" a defensively challenged slugger, but this eight-time All Star should be judged as an infielder, one who would surely have earned more than three Gold Gloves had the award been inaugurated before 1957.
The Baseball Writers' Association of America uses a number of arbitrary guidelines for HOF eligibility—standards that work against Gil yet have often been compromised by cronyism to allow less-deserving players in. It should be noted that there have been BWAA members who arbitrarily voted against the likes of Ruth, Mays, Aaron and Seaver, et al, and, as a body, they have deemed Bowie Kuhn Hall-worthy while shutting Marvin Miller out.
"Not getting booed at Ebbets Field was an amazing thing. Those fans knew their baseball and Gil was the only player I can remember whom the fans never, I mean never booed." - Clem Labine, former Dodgers and (briefly) Mets pitcher
Cliff Floyd celebrates his big 4-0 today. He tore his Achilles tendon after tearing up Dodger pitching in the 2006 NLDS, which limited him to three painful at-bats vs. the Cards in the NLCS. A healthy Floyd would have deprived us of Endy Chavez’s one-for-the-ages catch, but we would’ve likely had one more World Series to look back on. Ironically, Cliff's replacement in left field the following season, Moises Alou, spent almost as much of his career on the DL as he did.
Happy 56th birthday to Dave Hudgens. The Mets drafted him as a first-baseman back in 1975, but he opted for college instead. Now he schools Mets hitters in the art of pitch selection. His grade to date: Incomplete.
Al Moran, who turns 74 today, was the Mets regular shortstop in 1963. Despite his billing as a defensive specialist, his fielding metrics were worse than those of his predecessor, Elio Chacon, and he brought even less to the table on offense.
Amazin’-ly Tenuous Connection
On this day in 1776, the first scholastic fraternity in America, Phi Beta Kappa, was organized at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. Chris Capuano was Phi Beta Kappa at Duke University, and you don’t need a college degree to figure out that Sandy Alderson (a Dartmouth grad) probably did the right thing by not giving the then-33-year-old lefty hurler the two-year deal he wanted last December. Meanwhile, back at William & Mary, another fraternity, Pi Kappa Alpha, counts among its members Mets fan extraordinaire Jon Stewart, class of ’84.