Tag Archives: Hall of Fame

Calvin Johnson: First Ballot Hall of Famer? Damn Right He Is!

Calvin Johnson

On March 8, 2016, Calvin Johnson released a statement announcing his retirement from the Detroit Lions and the National Football League.

And in typical fashion for Calvin, it was done with dignity and a whole lot of class. Just about everyone that talks about Mr. Johnson would say he is one of the classiest people in and out of the NFL. I never personally met the man but the way he conducted himself on the field and in the numerous interviews I’ve seen on him, he is on my Top Ten List of people I would love to have a conversation with.

No doubt the critics of Johnson will say that he left too much in the tank and is being selfish for leaving the game early. Far be it from me to speak for Calvin, but in my humble opinion, those naysayers have no idea what they are talking about.

In the nine years Calvin played in the NFL, he caught for less than 1,000 yards in only 2 of those years. In 2007, his rookie year, Johnson caught 48 passes for 756 yards and in 2009, he caught 67 passes for 984 yards.

From 2010 to 2015, he averaged a little under 90 receptions per year and 1,424 yards per year. This includes the NFL record year in which he caught 122 passes for 1,964 yards, breaking Jerry Rice’s record of 1,848 yards set in 1995.

Calvin also had a game against the Dallas Cowboys where he torched them for 329 yards on 14 catches and 1 touchdown in which the Lions won, 31-30. This is the second most yards in a game behind Flipper Anderson’s 336, but Flipper needed OT to get all his yards.

Some other NFL records Calvin holds in addition to the most receiving yards in a season:

  • First player with at least 2 touchdowns in each of his team’s first four games in a season
  • 2 seasons with at least 1,600 yards (tied with Tory Holt and Marvin Harrison)
  • Most consecutive games with at least 100 yards receiving with eight
  • Most consecutive games with at least 10 receptions with four
  • Most 100 yard games in a single season with 11 (tied with Michael Irvin)
  • Most receiving yards in a five game span (861 yards)
  • Most receiving yards in a six game span (962)
  • Fastest to reach 10,000 yards receiving (115 games)

Detroit Lions Franchise Records:

  • Most receiving touchdowns in a season (16 in 20111)
  • Most seasons with 10 or more receiving touchdowns (4)
  • Most career 70+ receptions per year (8)
  • Most games with multiple touchdowns in one half (12)

It’s hard to argue his greatness. Calvin, at 6-5” and 239 lbs., caught just about everything that came his way. But his body took a ton of abuse with corners and safeties pulling and pushing on him, trying to do as much as they could get away with to prevent him from catching the ball.

And not once did Johnson ever call his opponents out or complain to the referees about what was being done to him…it was part of the game and he accepted it with class and dignity.

Even in the opening game of 2011 against division rival Chicago Bears, when he rose up above Zack Bowman to catch a Scott Hill pass with 24 seconds left on the clock. When the call was overturned, you saw Calvin shake his head in disbelief but not once did he berate officials or throw a fit as we have seen some other players do.

In fact, Johnson took it upon himself to say  “That was me; I have to know the rules about completing the catch.” Though until this day, there is no one that can explain to just what is a proper catch.

He refused to let that moment define him. Instead, he forged on to continue to be one of the best that has played the position.

Let’s discuss his Hall of Fame possibilities. I may be a tad biased since he was a member of the Detroit Lions but I truly believe that Calvin has done enough to be a first ballot Hall of Famer. I can already hear the arguments that he shouldn’t…in fact, one fellow blogger from the Sportsblog pretty much indicates Calvin is not only a first ballot Hall of Famer, he shouldn’t even be considered for election to the Hall.

On February 17th, Anthony Eyeballs wrote “Calvin Johnson Is Not a Hall of Famer!” citing such various reasons that I will put arguments against.

  1. Calvin did not play long enough. I agree with most that Calvin did indeed cut short his career. But in this day and age of hoping for a good life after participating in a brutal sort, I applaud Calvin’s decision to leave the game while he still had a lot left in the tank. We can put forth the “love of the game” mantra, and for the most part, Calvin did show he loved the game. But football is a cruel mistress to the body. It takes a lot and outside of making a whole lot of money, it leaves that body in terrible shape if one stays in the game too long. Calvin wants to start a family and I’m sure he hopes to be able to pick-up his baby boy or girl without having shooting pains. Calvin loves the game but his priorities have shifted and now family comes first.
  2. His teams were never too great and never won a Super Bowl. This perhaps is the most erroneous reason for any player who had great careers but have this is an issue. Calvin Johnson was drafted and paid a lot of money to do two things: Catch passes and score touchdowns, which he did at an amazing pace. He was not responsible for drafts, free agency signings, play calling or which quarterback would throw to him. And he was not responsible for front office decisions…are you seriously going to put Matt Millen on his shoulders as a determent to getting into the Hall?

Jamie Samuelsen, co-host of “Jamie and Wojo” show, wrote an article in the Detroit Free Press “Jamie: Calvin Johnson is a Hall of Famer, but not right away.” He states that in pure numbers, Johnson falls short. Again, I don’t think people are taking into account what Calvin feels is the best for him and his family. Samuelsen says “If Johnson had played a few more years, he would have been ranked alongside some of the greatest names in the history of the sport, such as Jerry Rice and Randy Moss. Instead, he finds himself listed alongside receivers such as Santana Moss, Irving Fryar and Muhsin Muhammad in receptions, yards and touchdowns.”

I hate to break the news to you Jamie, but Calvin has always been compared to Jerry Rice and Randy Moss. Back in 2013, Jerry Rice stated “This guy is gifted but he also has the work ethic. A lot of guys are gifted but they don’t want to sacrifice and put the time in and he’s willing to do that. At the same time it doesn’t go to his head. That’s why I’m saying he’s only going to get better with that kind of attitude.”

This was after Calvin broke Jerry’s single-season receiving record with 1,964 yards. He also caught 122 passes, 5 of them for touchdowns in an otherwise dismal 4-10 Detroit Lions season.

These 3 wide-receivers, Calvin Johnson, Jerry Rice and Randy Moss all have one thing in common: Defensive coordinators had to tailor their defenses to stop them. And for the most part, they didn’t do a very good job. While in Calvin’s case, poor defenses caused the Lions to win less than teams Rice and Moss played on, I would say that Calvin gave defensive coordinators the most nightmares based on his physical gifts. I mean, just how do you match-up with a 6-5, 239 lb. freak of nature who could run a 40 yard dash in 4.35 seconds?

Along with that size were Johnson’s incredible hand strength and most importantly, how he could control his body in the air while making some of the best breath-taking catches that were ever witnessed.

Did Calvin retire too soon? From a fan’s perspective, yes. Who wouldn’t want to see a player of this caliber continue to play? But from his perspective, one I can only conjecture, he left the game on his terms and perhaps he could give a rip if he makes it into the Hall.

We shouldn’t judge Calvin on why he chose to leave the game. We should respect his reasoning and thank him for all of the great moments he gave us in his short time.

We should also embrace the fact that not once in his career was he ever accused of taking performance enhancing drugs, ever called a selfish player and never ever involved in any stupid off the field antics. He is a very dignified and classy player and person of unquestionable integrity, something that everyone should aspire to be.

In my mind, Calvin Johnson is already a Hall of Famer…for being a good person.

Thank you Calvin for giving us some great memories!

Edgar Martinez – A Case For The Hall of Fame

Edgar Martinez

I am a little ticked off at the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA).

For the sixth time, the BBWAA has failed to get one of the best hitters ever to play the game elected to where he belongs.

Apparently, there are two major issues that are working against Martinez:

1.  Martinez, for most of his 18 year career, served as the best designated hitter ever to play the game.  Never mind the fact that since 1972, the American League requires a player to be a designated hitter.  Martinez is being penalized due to a requirement of the rules.

2.  That the BBWAA is going to submit a player purely as a hitter, in a time where offense is seems to count for everything, that those hitting statistics should be stratospheric.  Martinez could always hit during his career but his defense is what held him back.  Edgar didn’t become the Mariners regular third baseman until he was 29 years old.  Perhaps Martinez should file an age discrimination suit against the BBWAA seems it appears they are holding that against him as well.

I went to Baseball Reference web site and got all of the statistics for the current Hall of Fame members.  I took out any non-players and pitchers and ended up with 171 players to compare Edgars stats with.  I am also going to use Frank Thomas and David Ortiz, 2 players who are recognized for DH accomplishments than there defensive prowess.

Average:  Edgar’s .312 batting average puts him 61st among the members of the Hall, tying him with Hughie Jennings, Johnny Mize, Joe Sewell and Deacon White.  At.312, he is just above Freddie Lindstrom, Jackie Robinson and Luke Appling.  Frank Thomas, who played more games as a DH than at first, got into the Hall with a .301 average is ranked 83rd.  David Ortiz, also a player with more at-bats at DH comes in at .283 which would put him 120th in ranking.

On Base Percentage:  Frank Thomas, at .419 edged Edgar by .001 and is 14th among HOF players with Edgar right behind him at 15 coming in at .418.  Ortiz comes in at 75 with .377 OPB.

Slugging Percentage:  Edgar is in the top 30 among Hall of Fame Players at 28 with a .515, tied with the great Willie McCovey and just ahead of Ty Cobb, Eddie Matthews and Harmon Killebrew.  David Ortiz comes in at 17 with a .543 and Frank Thomas in at 12th with .555 slugging percentage.  Very comparable stats.

Hits:  Edgar’s 2,247 hits puts him 92nd among the Hall of Fame players, in the company of Brooks Robinson, Willie McCovey, Joe Medwick and Willie Stargell.  He ranks 2nd among Frank Thomas (65th with 2,468 hits) and David Ortiz comes in at 93 with 2,241 hits though by the time Ortiz quits playing, he will have added more to that total.

Doubles:  A staple of Edgar’s hitting prowess, he comes in at 31 among Hall of Fame players, ahead of Ricky Henderson, Babe Ruth, Tony Perez and Roberto Alomar.  He is second to David Ortiz who is 17th with 564 doubles.  Frank Thomas?  At number 40 among HOF players, Thomas hit 495 doubles.

Home Runs:  With 309 career home runs, Edgar is ranked at 41 in the Hall, keeping company with Hank Greenberg, Gary Carter, George Brett and Rogers Hornsby.  David Ortiz is currently ranked 18th with 486 home runs and Frank Thomas is at number 11 with 521.

I could go on and on but the fact of the matter is Edgar Martinez deserves to be in the Hall of Fame.  One more stat (and this is my own) that I can throw out there.  I did an average of all the statistical information available and assigned and Edgar scored 1,097 ranking him 96th among Hall of Fame Players.  Better than 77 players currently in the Hall of Fame.

And what of the American League naming the Designated Hitter Award after he won the damn thing five times?  That’s right, the winner for being the best designated hitter in the American League gets the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award.

Among his other awards:

  • Five time winner of the Silver Slugger Award
  • Three American League OPB awards
  • Two American League Batting Titles
  • Named seven times as an American League All Star

He is one of only eight players to have 300 home runs, 500 doubles, career batting average above .300, a career OBP above .400 and a career slugging percentage above .500.  Five of those eight players are in the Hall of Fame.

Edgar had a seven year stretch of dominating offensive play.  During that time:

  • Batted at least .325
  • OBP of at least .440
  • Slugging percentage of at least .570
  • Hit at least 250 doubles
  • Played in 1,000 games

Lou Gehrig and Ted Williams, both in the Hall, are the only players to match that level of offensive output.

He is also on of six players to hit at least .320 for six straight seasons.  The others are Stan Musial, Wade Boggs, Rod Carew, Tony Gwynn and Todd Helton (Not in the Hall).

Not sure what Edgar needed to do besides get to the major league level sooner than 29 and play a position.  But the Hall of Fame requirements appears to look at offensive numbers more than anything to get in.  Really, the only player that was elected because of his glove was Ozzie Smith.  I know, Brooks Robinson was a vacuum cleaner at 3rd base and Willie Mays was the best centerfielder to ever live.  But look at Reggie Jackson…he was never known for his defense but those deficiencies were overlooked because he could hit for power and do so in some very clutch situations.  Ted Williams hated to play defense…all he wanted to do was hit.  Would have been the perfect DH if he could have played when it was a rule.

It appears to me that the BBWAA will overlook defensive deficiencies if a player had outstanding numbers.  Edgar has those numbers and yet they toss in that because he didn’t play defense, the numbers he has are a little inflated.

BBWAA, you can’t have it both ways.  Do the right thing and elect Edgar into the Hall of Fame.  You couldn’t have a better person representing baseball.

 

 

 

Pete Rose – Time To Let Him Into The Hall of Fame

Pete Rose

It has been far too long since baseball has punished Pete Rose.  It has come to a point where punishment no longer fits the crime.

Pete Rose is recognized as the all-time hit leader in the Major Leagues.  Yet despite his accomplishments as a player, he is being punished for stupid mistakes that he made mostly as a manager.  Everyone who knows baseball knows that Rose was never going into the Hall as a manger, not with his accomplishments as a player:

  • 24 year career
  • .303 lifetime career batting average
  • 4,256 hits – most in major league history
  • Three batting titles
  • Three World Series rings
  • One MVP award
  • 17 All-Star appearances for five different positions (2B, LF, RF, 3B & 1B)

Rose has admitted to betting while playing and managing the Reds.  He also states that he never bet against the Reds so there was no reason to throw games.  If anything, he had more incentive to win.

Outside of the integrity of the game, who did Pete Rose hurt outside of himself and his family?

Is his gambling more harmful than players using performance enhancing drugs?  You would think that would be more harmful to the integrity of the game.  Yet Alex Rodriguez was suspended for a year and is now back playing with the Yankees.

Many players have done more harm to the image of the game with drug and alcohol use as opposed to gambling.  Yet baseball allows those players back into the game but not those who have been caught placing bets.

Here are some interesting tidbits on players/managers/owners suspended for gambling and being reinstated as opposed to players/managers/owners being suspended for drug and alcohol use:

  • Since 1865, 41 people have been banned (not suspended) for some amount of time, either for gambling or drug related use.  This includes one umpire, Richard Higham in 1882 for conspiring to help throw a Detroit Wolverines game.
  • Of those 41, 27 were related to gambling.  13 of the 41 were reinstated and only three persons  banned or gambling related issues were allowed to come back.
  • To this day, 24 people associated to the game of baseball have been permanently banned for gambling related issues.
  • In contrast, only 2 players have  been banned:  Ferguson Jenkins in 1980 when drugs were found on his person on Toronto and Steve Howe in 1992 after receiving seven suspension related to drug use.

Both players were later reinstated.  Jenkins was reinstated by an independent arbitrator and elected into the Hall of Fame in 1991.  Steve Howe was also reinstated by an independent arbitrator in 1992 and he retired from the game in 1996 and passed away in 2006.

As a result, no player has been permanently banned from baseball due to drug related issues.

I am not attempting to minimize the effect of gambling has on the game of baseball or any major league sport.  But what bothers me is the disparity between the rulings regarding drug related issues and those related to gambling.  Baseball basically bends over backwards in their disciplinary actions when players are tested positive for drugs:

Failure to comply with drug or alcohol treatment program:

  • First failure – 15 to 25 day suspension and/or a fine up to $10,000
  • Second failure – 25 to 50 day suspension and/or fine up to $25,000
  • Third failure  –  50 to 75 day suspension and/or fine of up to $50,000
  • Fourth failure – Minimum of one year suspension and/or fine of up to $100,000 fine
  • Anything after the fifth failure, the level of discipline will be determined my the Commissioner of baseball

As for steroids or PED’s, a player gets 2 chances before receiving a lifetime ban.  First time tested, 80 game suspension, second time, 162 game suspension.

There aren’t any such tiered suspensions in regards to gambling violations.  Major League Ruling 21, paragraph D addresses gambling penalties as such:

Betting on ball games:  Any player, umpire, or club official or employee, who shall bet any sum whatsoever upon any baseball game with the bettor has no duty to perform shall be declared ineligible for one year.

Any player, umpire, or club official or employee, who shall be any  sum whatsoever with which the bettor as a duty to perform shall be permanently ineligible.

In other words, betting on a game where you don’t affect the outcome, you are out for a year; in games where you have any influence, you are gone for good.

Rose was never given the chance of tiered disciplinary actions such as players tested for drugs or steroids.  And doesn’t drug or steroid use do more to the determent of the game than gambling does?

Besides, Rose gambled more intensely has a  manager than he ever did as a player.  Fair thing to do is to allow him into the Hall of Fame for his accomplishments as a player but don’t ever allow him to have any type of employment in baseball because of his actions as a player.  And of the man wants to buy a ticket and watch a game, for crying out loud, let him.

Rose knows he disrespected baseball.  But there is no one on this planet that loves the game more than he does.  His style of play and constant hustle endeared him to fans and still does to this day.

Hasn’t Rose paid his dues?  Isn’t it enough that because of his discretions, his life after baseball was full of turmoil and grief?  Has he not shown enough remorse for his actions?

Baseball hierarchy needs to re-evaluate its stance on Rose.  I believe Rose has paid his dues and it’s time to welcome the Hit King to his place in baseball.