Tag Archives: CNN

WEDNESDAY NIGHT BASEBALL-GREAT TIMES AT WRIGLEY FIELD

All but one of Major League Baseball’s thirty clubs have now staged their home openers. Sun Trust Park in suburban Atlanta awaits to be christened on Friday night.  Julio Teheran will open the Braves new home against the visiting Padres.

Out of the twenty-nine season premiers that have been staged so far there was one that was over a century in the making.  Before Monday night’s home opener at Wrigley Field, the Cubs held a ceremony for the first time in 108 years!  They raised the World Series Championship flag and paraded the World Series Trophy!

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Chicago Cubs take turns raising the 2016 World Series Flag at Wrigley Field Monday night.

 

So how do you put the finishing touches on a championship 108 years in the making? Well, the Cubs literally did it themselves!  Members of the squad went into the bleachers and took turns raising the championship banner up the flagpole.  Let it be known for all time that the curse is over, the drought has ended.  The 2016 World Series Championship banner now hangs amid the iconic scoreboard and team flags.  The W’s and L’s for years to come will hang in the shadow of the biggest Cubs flag of them all.

Oh and by the way, the Cubs hosted the Los Angeles Dodgers on Monday night.  Yes, the same Dodgers that were on the wrong end of history last October, when the Cubs headed back to the Series for the first time since 1945.

How did things end on this magical night on the Near North Side of Chicago?  It ended with a walk-off single, courtesy of Anthony Rizzo!  It ended with a 3-2 Cubs win!  It ended with the “W” flag hanging next to what is now its big brother!

The Cubs will receive their championship rings tonight.

Besides the heroics at the Friendly Confines, there were other highlights during the first week and a half of the 2017 season.  New York Mets left-fielder Yoenis Cespedes launched three home runs last night in Philadelphia.  The Mets tallied 20 total hits in a 14-4 route of the Phillies.

The Phillies had an explosion of their own on Saturday night against Washington.  Philadelphia erupted for twelve runs in the bottom of the first inning on their way to a 17-3 victory.

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This week’s defensive gem belongs to Miami’s center-fielder Christian Yelich.

 

On Saturday night at Citi Field in New York, Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich robbed Cespedes of what would’ve been either a home run or a double.  This is my defensive gem of the week.  Miami defeated the home standing Mets 8-1.

That’s it for this week.  I’ll be back next Wednesday for more!

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IN THE AIR THERE’S A FEELING OF PLAYOFFS

Ahh! The fresh air of spring!  The days are getting longer, the weather is getting warmer, baseball has gone into day in and day out mode!  This can only mean one (or actually two) things…..Arena sports playoff season is almost upon us!  With the regular season in both the NHL and NBA coming to a close this week there is so much to be settled.

The National Hockey League will close its regular season today.  The National Basketball Association closes for regular business on Wednesday.  The Stanley Cup Playoff schedule will be announced late tonight, same for the NBA when all is done on Wednesday.

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Toronto Maple Leafs clinch the final playoff spot in the NHL Eastern Conference last night.

 

Last night, as my wife Robin and I cheered on our Florida Panthers in their home finale, there was so much scoreboard (or should I say smart-phone watching) going on.  Coming in to last night there was one final spot to be decided in the Eastern Conference.  The Toronto Maple Leafs needed a win to secure the final spot, the New York Islanders and Tampa Bay Lightning were right behind them.  Oh and by the way there was a basketball game going on down the road in Miami with playoff implications that we were keeping an eye on.  More on that later.

As we were leaving the BB&T Center I got a text from a friend of mine saying simply “Leafs in.”  When we left the building following the Panthers 3-0 victory over Buffalo the game between the Leafs and Penguins was in a 2-2 tie.  The Islanders had already beaten the New Jersey Devils and the Lightning were off.

Although the field is set in the NHL’s Western Conference the first round pairings are still up in the air.  The top seed already belongs to the Chicago Blackhawks.   The Hawks will be taking on the number 2 Wild Card winning Nashville Predators in the first round. Nashville finished their season last night with a 2-1 loss in Winnipeg, while the Calgary Flames (#1 Wild Card) lost their season finale in San Jose by the score of 4-1.  Calgary and Nashville finish the season tied at 94 points, Calgary won the Wild Card battle by a tiebreaker.

The last piece of business in the NHL is the top spot in the Pacific Division.  Coming into play today, the Anaheim Ducks have a two point lead over the second place Edmonton Oilers.  Edmonton holds the tiebreaker between the teams.  Both teams finish at home tonight.  Anaheim will host its Southern California rivals, the Los Angeles Kings in their season, and home finale.  The Oilers will finish against the Vancouver Canucks (also on home ice).  The Kings will be gunning for the Ducks and would love to play spoilers in a very heated crosstown rivalry.

Not to be outdone by the NHL, there is so much going on in the NBA as their season heads for a close.

The defending champion Cleveland Cavaliers currently hold a half game lead over the Boston Celtics for top seed in the Eastern Conference.  The Cavs have three games remaining, the Celtics have two left.  The last two playoff spots in the East are still up for grabs.  As of this morning the Indiana Pacers have a one game lead over the Chicago Bulls and Miami Heat.  Chicago and Miami have identical records, the Bulls hold the tiebreaker.

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The Celtics are giving Lebron and Company a run for their money.

 

The last playoff spot in the Western Conference is still up for grabs.  The Portland Trail Blazers are currently in the driver’s seat, with a game and a half lead over the Denver Nuggets.  Portland has two games left, Denver has three remaining.

This week should be interesting in both sports.  The Stanley Cup playoffs will open, the NBA regular season comes to a close, and then the real fun starts!

IT’S BASEBALL SEASON! PART II

Since I last left you, all thirty Major League teams have opened their season.  Yes, the rite of every April has come to pass for half the league.  Over the next week and a half those who began play on the road will celebrate their home openers.  Then we will have the grand old game every day until October, and then most nights until early November.

Sunday was the American League’s preview, tonight it’s the Senior Circuit’s turn.

Pitching is going to be the theme in the National League East.  The Washington Nationals boast arguably two of the best individual arms in the game with Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg.  The Mets might have the best starting rotation in Majors.  Noah Syndergaard leads the rotation, followed by fellow long-haired stud Jacob deGrom.  Matt Harvey and Zack Wheeler follow behind the long blonde tandem.  The big question mark in Flushing is the elbow injury to Steven Matz.  For now, Robert Gsellman will take Matz’s spot in the rotation.

The Mets biggest off-season moves are the players they kept.  Yoenis Cespedes and Neil Walker were both re-signed.  As for the Nats, Adam Eaton was the big addition, Wilson Ramos, the most notable loss.

In Miami the biggest and most stinging loss has to be Jose Fernandez.  Not only the devastating loss of a player, but the loss of an energetic leader and the face of the franchise.  The big question in Little Havana is will this team, and franchise for that matter, rebound after the tragedy at the end of last year?

The Marlins decided to fill the void left by Fernandez’ death by building a communal pitching staff.  Edinson Volquez, who was acquired as a free agent was the Opening Day starter.

The sleeper in this division could very well be the Philadelphia Phillies.  The Phils are stocked with a lot of young talent that might not know they’re supposed to lose.  The only attraction in Atlanta this year will be its new billion dollar ballpark.

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After 108 long years the ultimate “W” flag will fly over Wrigley Field!

In the Central Division, the big question is can the Cubs, fresh off their first championship in 108 years, repeat as champs?  Two main pieces of the championship puzzle have gone elsewhere.  Closer Aldoris Chapman decided to return to the Bronx, and centerfielder (and leadoff man) Dexter Fowler went to the dark side in St. Louis.  Former Royal Wade Davis joins the pitching staff, and former rival John Jay looks to replace Fowler in center.

The Cardinals’ pickup of Dexter Fowler and the loss of Matt Holliday were their two most significant changes.  There weren’t any major moves in Pittsburgh or Milwaukee. In Cincinnati, The Reds continue to be in full-out rebuilding mode.

Out west last year the Dodgers and Giants battled into the final days of the season.  The Dodgers really didn’t make any major moves.  The Giants added closer Mark Melancon, and parted ways with Angel Pagan.

The rest of the division, is just that.  The rest.  It’s going to be a two-horse race in the National League West.  The Padres, Rockies, and Diamondbacks are all in rebuilding mode.

So now it’s prediction time!

Eastern Division:

New York Mets

Washington

Miami

Philadelphia

Atlanta

 

Central Division:

Chicago Cubs

St. Louis

Pittsburgh

Milwaukee

Cincinnati

 

Western Division:

Los Angeles Dodgers

San Francisco

San Diego

Colorado

Arizona

 

Wild Cards will go to Washington and San Francisco.

National League Champions:  Los Angeles Dodgers

World Series Champions:  Cleveland Indians!

Yes, folks I’m putting it on the line.  Another drought will end!

See you next Wednesday for a wrap up of the opening week of Major League Baseball!

 

 

 

IT’S BASEBALL SEASON!

As a sports fan there is no opening of a season that is more of an event than in baseball.  It’s upon us folks!  At 1:00 this afternoon when the Yankees and Rays take the field in St. Petersburg, Florida it will signal newness not seen since New Year’s.

Today, and Wednesday I will preview the upcoming season.  Today I start with the American League.

Let me begin with the American League East and the aforementioned Yankees and Rays.  In 2016, the Boston Red Sox won this division after a last place finish the year before.  Was 2015 an aberration?  Did the real Sox show up last year?  The big hole to fill in Fenway Park this year will be the absence of David Ortiz.

The Toronto Blue Jays and Baltimore Orioles followed the Red Sox into the post-season, taking home both American League Wild Cards.  The Blue Jays lost Edwin Encarnacion and R.A Dickey, while the Orioles picked up Seth Smith.

The New York Yankees could be playing second fiddle once again in the Big Apple this year.  Off-season pickups were Aldoris Chapman (who was only gone long enough to win a World Series in Chicago), Matt Holliday, and former Met Ruben Tejada.  The Yankees biggest subtraction had to be the retirement of Mark Texiera.  Rising star Gary Sanchez seems to be taking over as the leader in the Bronx.

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Cleveland Indians win the 2016 American League championship.

 

The Cleveland Indians seemingly came out of nowhere last year to win the American League Central.  Little did we know how far the Tribe could go.  If anything this team got even stronger in the off-season.  Can the team who now holds baseball’s longest championship drought (68 years) get the monkey off of their backs?.

Toronto’s loss was Cleveland’s gain.  Edwin Encarnacion signed with the Indians in the off-season.  He will replace Mike Napoli at first base.  Also gone was “almost World Series hero” Rajai Davis (who’s home run sent Game 7 into extras).

As for the 2015 champs, the Kansas City Royals lost pitcher Edinson Volquez while picking up Brandon Moss.  The Tigers, White Sox, and Twins are all long shots in making the post-season.

Out west it seems that the Mariners, Astros, and Rangers all played “can you top this?”  The Rangers re-signed Carlos Gomez, brought in Dillon Gee and James Loney.  Yovano Gallardo headlined a bunch of new players in Seattle.  A pair of former Yankees head to Houston as Brian McCann and Carlos Beltran join the Astros.

As for the two teams in California it could be a long season.  The Angels continue to get older and the Athletics are still in rebuilding mode.

So, now I give you my predictions.  Baseball is a long season, with many twists and turns.  Everyone has a shot beginning this week!

Eastern Division

Boston

Baltimore

Toronto

NY Yankees

Tampa Bay

 

Central Division

Cleveland

Kansas City

Detroit

Chicago White Sox

Minnesota

 

Western Division

Houston

Seattle

Texas

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Oakland

 

I am picking the Royals and Orioles to win the Wild Cards.  My pick for the American League championship…..The Cleveland Indians!  Can this be the year to end another drought????  Stay tuned.

Wednesday night I tackle the National League and my pick for the 2017 World Series champion.

Pull up a chair and enjoy the openers!

WEDNESDAY NIGHT BASEBALL-BREAKING CAMP

Unlike any other professional sport, baseball always seems to have times during the season that triggers hope in the eyes of a fan.  One of those times are upon us.

In the middle of February the excitement began when the 30 Major League franchises headed for Arizona and Florida.  If you are like me the turning point of Spring Training occurs somewhere around St. Patrick’s Day.  At that point you are either tired of games that don’t count and are played mostly by minor league prospects, or you want to see where teams make their final cuts.

This leads me to my point.  Here we are on March 29th.  Teams are starting to wrap up competition in both the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues.  The exodus from Arizona and Florida has begun in advance of Sunday’s national openers.

What is always intriguing to me about this weekend is the scheduling.  This is the weekend when the Blue Jays test the market in Montreal to see if there will eventually be a return of baseball to French Canada.  This year’s opponent, the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The US Army and Naval academies will be playing host to pre-season action this weekend.  The Mets visit West Point on Friday afternoon to play a game against Army.  The Red Sox and Nationals will break camp together after tomorrow’s game in Ft. Myers.  Next stop is the Nation’s Capital for a game at Nationals Park, and then it’s off to Annapolis and the Naval Academy on Saturday.

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The United States Naval Academy will host the Red Sox and Nationals this Saturday.  West Point will host the Mets on Friday.

The American League Champion Indians will visit Chase Field in Phoenix for a two game series with the Diamondbacks.  It only took 108 years for me to say this, but the defending World Series Champion Chicago Cubs broke camp today!  Next stop on the way back to the Friendly Confines will be Houston. The Astros wrapped up their inaugural stint in West Palm Beach this afternoon with a 5-5 tie with the Marlins.  The Astros host the defending champs for a two game series at Minute Maid Park tomorrow and Friday.  Starting Sunday, the Marlins and Rays have Florida all to themselves again (same goes for the Diamondbacks in Arizona).

And finally, this is traditionally the weekend to “soft open” a new ballpark.  The Yankees will head to suburban Atlanta to test out Sun Trust Park, the new home of the Braves.

Hope springs eternal after these final exhibition matchups.  The Yankees and Rays open things for real on Sunday afternoon, followed by the Giants and D-Backs.  Sunday night the Cubs, yes the Cubs open the defense of their crown in, of all places, St. Louis against their arch rivals!

Just a program note, my next blog will be a two-part preview of the Major League 2017 season. Part 1 will be my Sunday blog and it will conclude on Wednesday.

IS YOUR BRACKET STILL ALIVE?

Here we are heading towards the close of the second weekend of the NCAA Basketball Tournament.  The field has dwindled to six, it will be down to the Final Four by days end. So the question now is who’s still alive?

I will say from a personal standpoint that I am living and dying with Kentucky at this point.  Like most Duke and Arizona were bracket busters for me.  Out of my  predicted Final Four only Kentucky remains in the dance.

Image result for Florida buzzer beaterUniversity of Florida’s Chris Chiozza hits a buzzer beating 3 point shot to oust Wisconsin.

So far the highlight of this year’s tournament has to be Florida’s Chris Chiozza’s buzzer beating three pointer in overtime.  This shot knocked Wisconsin from the tournament and propelled the Gators into the Elite 8.

The biggest bracket busters in the field have to be South Carolina, (who has dispatched both Duke and Baylor) and Oregon (who ended Michigan’s unlikely run and knocked off Kansas last night).  Oregon won the original NCAA Tournament in 1939, that was the last time the Ducks were in the Final Four.

 

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Local newspaper headline from 1939, the last time the University of Oregon went to the Final Four, they were National Champs.

Who plays Cinderella at this year’s Ball?  Two very big matchups await us this afternoon.  Will a buzzer beater reverberate around the swamps of Gainesville once again?  Will we be looking at a possible Carolina battle?  Will the Pacific Northwest rise again in the person of Oregon or Gonzaga?

Who will be left boasting around the office water cooler tomorrow morning?  Who’s got Gonzaga?  Did anyone pick Oregon?  Who’s with me on Kentucky? Who’s got the Gators? Are one or more of the Carolina teams still around?  If they are do you have either one of them winning the championship?

The American College Basketball Festival continues today and will come to a thrilling climax next Monday night.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT BASEBALL-WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC FINALS

When the United States and Puerto Rico take the field at Dodger Stadium it will be a classic in the making.  Besides the fact that this game is a rematch of an earlier nail biter, the story lines go deeper than the game of baseball.

The USA is the Mother Ship, Puerto Rico is the Territory.  Puerto Rico has representation in the US House of Representatives, yet it has its own flag.  And here is the biggest political kicker, a referendum is scheduled for June of this year to decide what direction the island will take.  The two choices are either apply for statehood, which will possibly make this the last competition between the two entities, or declare its independence as a nation.

Toronto Blue Jays pitcher Marcus Stroman will take the mound for Team USA this evening and will be opposed by Seth Lugo of the New York Mets.  Stroman could have been part of Team Puerto Rico, but opted to play for the Americans.  As a result, Stroman’s mother has been the subject of harassment on social media by many Puerto Ricans.  This will make for an emotional start for Stroman.  This again, could go way beyond the game of baseball.

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Marcus Stroman will start for Team USA in the World Baseball Classic Finals.

Seth Lugo will return to the Mets camp in Pt. St. Lucie, Florida following the WBC to finish competing for the fifth spot in their rotation.  Tonight, he takes the pride of the territory that either wants to join Big Brother or break away from it on his shoulders.  Yes, this is the biggest start of Lugo’s career, notwithstanding a start on the World Series stage at Citi Field.

Who will be the Classic’s MVP?  Yadier Molina has been arguably the driving force in Puerto Rico’s 7-0 record and a place in the Finals.  Adam Jones and possibly Christian Yelich are candidates from the United States.

So the grand old ballpark set in Southern California’s Chevez Ravine could see another chapter written in its hallowed halls.  Perhaps a ballpark that has been home to Sandy Koufax, Tommy LaSorda, Don Sutton, and Don Drysdale to name a few, can add one of the all time biggest international games to its resume tonight.  Too bad old Vin won’t be in the Dodger Stadium press box to tell everyone in the USA and its extended family in the Caribbean to pull up a chair this evening.  Enjoy the game wherever you may be!

BRACKETOLOGY-AN AMERICAN OBSESSION

This weekend is arguably the second biggest for sports fans on the calendar.  Although Super Bowl weekend is still king,  the first two rounds of the NCAA Basketball Championship is, in my opinion, number two.  When else is it almost appropriate to have the early basketball games minimized on your work computer on a Thursday and Friday afternoon?

For the kids competing in the 68 school event, it’s anywhere from a once in a lifetime chance at fame, to an NBA audition.  What makes this time of year even more intriguing, is the fact that millions of casual fans have an interest in each and every game.

What had begun as a simple office pool in the 1980’s has caught on and become an obsession in America!  The advent of the internet has helped fuel the fire on this.  It is now so easy to log on to any of the hundreds of pools and click away at your predictions.  I began competing in pools when players actually hand wrote there predictions and the moderator of the pool used a photocopier and kept track of the standings by hand!

There is a genius to this. If it wasn’t for my picks, would this sports fan who is originally from New York and lives in South Florida, have any rooting interest in a game involving Duke or Kentucky?

Like most Americans. while I was eating lunch on Thursday I was sitting at my desk watching the first game of the day.  I had Notre Dame going another couple of rounds and continued to watch as Princeton stayed with them.  The Irish would win by two points and had me whispering “Yes!” as time ran out.  I’m not a fan of either school, but Notre Dame was supposed to continue on to the Sweet Sixteen in my world.

Yesterday afternoon the bubble burst for many when Wisconsin took down number one overall Villanova.  A mere hours later Florida State’s loss to Xavier busted more brackets.

Here’s the genius in all of this. If you fill out one of these pool worksheets it gives watching the tournament new meaning.  You have a rooting interest in every game!  Thursday and Friday of the first weekend has everyone interested in all of  the games being played.  This weekend   everyone from the most seasoned  college basketball fan to the receptionist in the office all have a shot at winning.  Everyone is interested during the first weekend of wall to wall basketball games.

During Barack Obama’s term as President, basketball fans looked forward to the unveiling of his bracket on ESPN.  Many are disappointed that President Trump declined to do so this year.  This just shows the enormity of what March Madness has become.

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President Barack Obama fills out his 2009 Presidential Bracket

The question in workplaces throughout the United States and beyond, tomorrow morning will be “how did you do this weekend?”  or “did your bracket get busted by Wisconsin beating Villanova?”  There can be even more questions by day’s end today as number one seeds North Carolina and Kansas are in action.

Just for the record, I’m still alive and well despite Villanova losing yesterday.  I had them losing to Duke in the Elite Eight.  As for Florida State, I had Xavier winning that game.  My Final Four you might ask?  Three of them see action today.  Kentucky, Louisville and Duke all play today.  Gonzaga is safe and sound and in the Sweet Sixteen.

Enjoy the rest of this once a year basketball celebration.  Take out your brackets and take notice as these kids play for a National Championship.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT BASEBALL-THE WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC PART II

When I left you last week the boys from the Holy Land were the talk of the World Baseball Classic.  That was before the bigger boys from the west  began play.

In a wild weekend in Miami and Jalisco, Puerto Rico, Venezuela, the United States, and the Dominican Republic emerged as winners.  The highlight of the Pool C bracket in Miami was Saturday night’s contest between the USA and the Dominican Republic.  The Americans came out big trying to avenge their semi-final loss in the 2013 classic.  The Red, White, and Blue held a 5-0 advantage in the middle of the sixth inning, that’s when things got interesting.

Manny Machado began the comeback with a solo home run off of Tanner Roark.  Later in the inning, Carlos Santana would single home Robinson Cano making it a 5-2 ballgame.  An RBI double by Wellington Castillo in the seventh drew the Dominicans to within 5-3.

Andrew Miller, who was a main cog in the Cleveland Indians bullpen last year took the mound to begin the 8th.  The Dominicans would tee off on the Indians star.  Home runs by Nelson Cruz (with two aboard) and a solo shot by Stirling Marte capped the comeback and a 7-5 victory.  Both the Americans and the Dominicans advanced out of Pool B and will meet  again in San Diego.  The Dominicans lost their first game in San Diego’s Pool F to Puerto Rico yesterday by the score of 3-1.  The USA sees its first action in Pool F tonight against Venezuela.

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Team Dominican Republic celebrates a comeback victory over the USA.

 

Puerto Rico and Japan are the only undefeated teams remaining in the competition.  The Japanese team ended Israel’s dream this morning (Eastern time) with an 8-3 victory in Tokyo. The boys from the Land of the Rising Sun head to Los Angeles sporting a 6-0 record in the tournament.   Team Israel’s loss to Japan coupled with the Netherlands 15-1 drubbing of Cuba sent the boys from the Holy Land home.  A valiant effort, a wonderful surprise, but Israel ran into a superior squad.

So as of today Team Japan and Team Netherlands head for Los Angeles.  So much baseball is to be played in San Diego between four of the planet’s top teams. Next Wednesday I will preview the Finals.  Look for the blog to print earlier than usual leading into game time at 9:00 Eastern Time.  Until then, grab a beverage, pull up a chair and show your nation’s pride and colors!

 

 

WEDNESDAY NIGHT BASEBALL-THE HALL OF FAME CLASS OF 2017

Welcome to my new Wednesday night blog.  Nothing but baseball on Wednesday nights!

Although its only mid January,there is so much is going on in the world of baseball!  Free agency is coming to a close, the hot stove is still burning and Spring Training is only a month away.  Join me each Wednesday for news, weekly wrap ups, and of course opinions and discussions!

That being said, earlier tonight the National Baseball Hall of Fame released its class of 2017!  I give you this year’s class:

JEFF BAGWELL:

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After years of waiting for this moment, Bagwell earned an overwhelming 86.2% of the vote.  Bagwell has been on the ballot since 2011. He retired in 2005 as a member of the National League champion Houston Astros.

Bagwell was a rarity in today’s times, spending his entire career with the same club.  He hit 449 career home runs, drove in 1,529 runs and had a lifetime average of .297.  He made one trip to the World Series.  Bagwell broke the 40 home run barrier three times in his career, and hit over 30 homer runs eight years in a row. He hit a career high of 47 round-trippers in 2000. Bagwell was the National League MVP in the strike shortened season of 1994.  Bagwell was also known for his defense at both catcher and second base.

TIM RAINES:

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After 10 long years on the ballot, The Rock gets his plaque in Cooperstown!

For a team that no longer exists, the Montreal Expos will most likely have its logo on three plaques this summer (Andre Dawson and Gary Carter being the other two).  Although Raines played for the White Sox, Yankees, Athletics, Orioles  and finished his career with the Marlins, he is mainly remembered as the Road Runner from Montreal.

He was part of two World Series championship teams in New York (1996 and 1999).  A lifetime .294 hitter, he stole 808 bases in his career. He  joins fellow speedsters Ricky Henderson and Lou Brock in the Hallowed Hall.  Raines was the National League batting champion in 1986 with a .334 average and four-time stolen base champion.

IVAN RODRIGUEZ:

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Arguably the best catcher in the Majors during the 1990’s and early 2000’s Pudge was elected to the Hall on his first ballot.

A .296 career hitter, Rodriguez played most of his career with the Texas Rangers.  He won his only World Series ring in his lone year with the Florida Marlins (2003).  He was also one of the best defensive catchers ever to wear the gear.

Pudge was the 1999 American League MVP as a member of the Rangers.  He belted out 199 hits including 35 homers and 113 RBI and hit .332 in that MVP season.

Congratulations Bags, Rock, and Pudge!  See you in Cooperstown this July.

There were also two other inductees.  John Scheurholz, the architect of the Braves teams that finished first in their division 12 straight years was elected.  Also elected was former commissioner Bud Selig.  This writer totally disagrees that Selig deserves this honor.  He doesn’t hold a candle to the likes of Bowie Kuhn.

See you next week as we continue through the off-season.  The warmth of baseball will get us through the cold of winter.