Freddie Freeman (by W.C.G.)

2013 was a breakout year for Freddie Freeman on the field, as he raised his OPS 101 points to almost .900 and made his first All-Star team. But even more fascinatingly, it was also the year he became the Braves’ — hell, the city of Atlanta’s — first breakout Internet sports star.

The defining Freddie Freeman moment of 2013 wasn’t a home run (he had 23) or an RBI (he had 109) but this bit of nationally televised viral self-marketing in the Philadelphia visitors’ dugout before the All-Star break:

And with that, Freddie declared himself the insurgent in an All-Star fan vote that had seemed preordained to go to Yasiel Puig, a 2013 breakout star of a different sort. Puig has been slagged by hacky sportswriters across the land for all kinds of #HotSportsTakes reasons that I find too lame to address, but there actually is an interesting difference between his approach to stardom and Freddie’s.

Puig represents the old model, the early-2000s relation of a star athlete to media and fans. His physical gifts and his on-field demeanor are such that ESPN finds him to be ratings gold and hypes him accordingly. But the Puig image, as with Bonds or A-Rod before him, is of a Greek god who brought his gifts and his faults down from Mt. Olympus for a while for our critique, and to there he will return.

Puig (and this is not a slam on him, as he is quite recently from Cuba and could not possibly be expected to understand the American media) is fundamentally unknowable, or at least unable to project the image of knowability, because his narrative is not a thing he’s opted to control. Freddie’s genius is in understanding the modern media world well enough that he can use it to shape his own destiny.

Freddie Freeman operates at a level of physical giftedness that, while not quite Puig’s top-of-the-charts measurables, is still orders of magnitude above what you or I could relate to. But baseball is still a job, and what we can relate to is goofing with your co-workers to pass the day. Witness Freddie’s Twitter exchange with the Mets’ Matt Harvey in which he deploys the same type of joke my brother specializes in.
This was shortly after the All-Star Game, as Freddie was hitting his stride as the Braves’ interactive star. Later in the season someone would make him a superhero cape, and Freddie wore it to batting practice. Baseball’s a months-long reality TV show, but Freddie Freeman is constantly breaking the fourth wall and having fun with the ability to do so.


Back to that All-Star vote: while MLB has made the “Final Vote” a part of the selection process since 2002, #VoteFreddie was the first campaign that actually felt organic and not like some 50-year-old executive’s idea for how to relate to younger fans. It even got a journeyman named Steve Delabar into the ASG on Freddie’s coattails. I don’t think that was just a Puig backlash; I think Freddie just intuitively understands how to relate to his fan base (right down to the use of “‘Merica,” which signals that he does not take the campaign overly seriously and that he probably likes funny stuff on the internet too).

In that sense, his best comparable isn’t Eddie Murray or Paul Goldschmidt or anyone with similar statistics on his baseball-reference page. Freddie’s comp is Jennifer Lawrence, who is everyone’s favorite movie star because she’s impossibly talented but acts in public like she just woke up one day and happened to find herself one of the world’s top actresses. In an age where .gifs and BuzzFeed are the new wave, but photo shoots and People magazine are your parents’ celebrity journalism, this attitude is exactly the way to set Millennial hearts aflutter. And what’s the logical endgame of Freddie’s hug game if not to be featured in a “25 Best Freddie Freeman Hugs” .gif collection someday? (There is already a tumblr on point.)

If there were to be a Freddie Freeman backlash, it would probably be similar in tone to the BuzzFeed backlash; the charge being that what look like spontaneous expressions of joy and good humor are really just calculated click-and-like-bait designed by and for people who know what 25-or-so-year-olds like. But I don’t think this is applicable to Freddie. I think he’s an All-Star level ballplayer who found a way to stay a step ahead of the hot takes mongerers by bypassing them and directly inviting his fans to have fun with him. I’m looking forward to seeing what he comes up with in 2014, both on the field and off it.

143 thoughts on “Freddie Freeman (by W.C.G.)”

  1. Puig’s another player that the media fawns so much over that you just wish they’d fall flat on their face, and maybe hit .120/.190/.195 for two months with some untimely defensive errors thrown in for good measure, and get benched.

  2. “If there were to be a Freddie Freeman backlash, it would probably be similar in tone to the BuzzFeed backlash; the charge being that what look like spontaneous expressions of joy and good humor are really just calculated click-and-like-bait designed by and for people who know what 25-or-so-year-olds like.”

    Freddie is Freddie is Freddie, as far as I can tell; the backlash would probably be against stars who’ll subscribe to the freeze-dried, flash-frozen version of viral self-marketing. See: I like LeBron, LeBron is awesome, I’m glad LeBron has rings and trophies, but the near-nightly “here’s what Bron’s publicist OK’d him to say on Twitter” updates on SportsCenter is one of the 58,938 reasons why that program is ugh. I preferred reading LeBron’s twitter right after The Decision (remember that? remember when that was a thing?) when he was responding to the H8erz because those screeds were coming from a *real*, intense person.

  3. If a friend of mine were a famous, successful athlete, I hope that I would try to urge them to drain all personality from their public appearances and keep the public at a respectful arm’s length — like Derek Jeter. An adoring public is wonderful, until they decide to go after you.

  4. Francouer in play now by the Lake?
    for Tito’s fans that’s hard to take
    attendance very poor
    how long will they endure
    the swinging strike, the throw he’ll rake?

  5. sweet Auburn, all is lost, all effort vain
    when wealth and plenty cheered the laboring swain
    the Seminole his graduation flayed
    his Heisman, how in God was it assayed?
    your lovely girls of innocence and ease
    sins of their youth where any sport could please
    how often have we loitered o’er thy green
    till adolescent screaming spoils the scene.

    so cocky were these ‘Noles, so short of charm
    with boosters who would take them by the arm
    the slightly scary spook, the unpaid bill
    the preacher now the president’s own shill
    the Tallahassee bush with seats beneath the shade
    the agent who explained the coming dollar parade
    how truly were they blessed, the Eagle turned away
    when toil remitting lent its turn to pay.

  6. My GF went to FSU for 7 years (I’d make a joke, but she ended up with like four degrees), so I had to watch the game last night for you. The experience of watching was probably worse for Alabama fans, but the ending was rough for everyone.

    Given the NFL’s policy of, “Don’t call anything in the playoffs ever” that’s been in effect recently, I was surprised they pulled the trigger on the endzone PI. It looked like pretty clear contact, but I’ve seen WAY more go uncalled in less impactful situations.

    Regardless, it was a phenomenal game. Auburn just couldn’t get the plays when they needed them late, and Winston settled down enough and got enough help from his receiving corp to win it.

  7. @13

    I mean…I guess. There’s pretty much no reason to even have the pass interference rule if you’re not gonna call it there. He was clearly grabbed and it clearly kept him from having a chance at the ball. The “let the players play” thing breaks down when it’s not a 50-50 call.

  8. I’m a Bama fan and grad, but watched last night’s game and pulled for Auburn. I wanted them to win, but the interference call at the end was a good call. I think they would have to call that in the NFL. It just seemed obvious to me.

  9. Also re: refs – I didn’t see it mentioned, but there was a clear horse-collar tackle (right in front of the refs) on the long pass down to the Auburn 23. For good measure, I noticed on replay (didn’t see it in real-time) the Auburn defender also grabbed the FSU player (Rashad Greene) by the facemask on the way down.

    That being said, I generally subscribe to the ‘let the players play’ rule of officiating, though I also agree that the pass interference in the endzone was blatant enough that the PI penalty was appropriate.

  10. Nope — the players should never play. There should be some kind of penalty call (or at least a replay) on every play. That way, the instant replay machines get enough work. A few subsidiary points: the definition of a catch should be sufficiently fluid that it is in doubt on every pass. Pass interference should be called just for a defender being close, and roughing the passer should be called for thinking mean thoughts about the QBs girlfriend. And don’t forget sideline infractions! Oh… and every play should feature a false start, but it should either be induced by the defense or called directly. At that point, we can just about dispense with the players entirely and substitute Madden 2014 avatars.

  11. That should’ve been called PI.

    Auburn should’ve been called for a horsecollar earlier in that drive.

    FSU’s excessive celebration penalty was ridiculous.

    This was the worst officiated season of college football I’ve ever seen in my life.

  12. I don’t know if officiating across the board is getting worse or it just seems like it, but I know this:

    Jeff Triplette, the referee who, in back-to-back weeks, screwed up the downs in one game, making the Redskins think they had a first down when, in fact, it was third down, and then the next week, OVERTURNED a call when there was indisputable evidence that the call on the field was CORRECT, had a playoff assignment this weekend. On top of that, this guy just comes off as a complete doofus who doesn’t know the rules. In one Falcons game a couple years ago, Mike Smith had to remind this guy of a basic rule.

    On the baseball side, Angel Hernandez and CB Bucknor regularly get playoff assignments.

    It sure would help the situation if sports leagues didn’t take their worst officials and give them assignments for the biggest games.

    (Also, I read afterward that the NFL gives playoff assignments to the seven crews which grade out the best over the course of the year through their evaluation system. If Triplette’s crew came out as one of the seven best, they probably need to revamp the system. That crew should’ve been suspended for the rest of the year based on how badly they screwed up the end of the aforementioned Redskins game alone.)

  13. It’s hard to have decent officiating when new rules come up that are totally asinine. Was there one targeting penalty in any of the bowl games? I didn’t see one if there was and that’s a good thing. I also hate the horsecollar rule, but if you are actually enforcing the rules you have, I agree it should have been called.

  14. I think the end-zone interference was pretty obvious.

    It’s just tough to lose on a kick return & a failure to tackle a receiver on a short pass that busts out for 50 yards.

    What I found most surprising was Auburn’s defensive control on the line of scrimmage, especially in the first half. They really pushed FSU around. Unfortunately, Auburn also left 10 points out there as well. I really thought they had a chance for a first-half KO.

  15. I would be ecstatic if college football- though I realize this would probably have to be at the conference level- initiated the plan the NFL seems to be adopting for reviews. One centralized location, one group of independent people with the ability to buzz refs to let them know they screwed up. As is, the stripes on the field and the guys in the booth are too buddy-buddy with each other; I know for a fact that both parties stay in the same hotel in Athens when they’re in town to do Georgia games. The SEC in particular has a serious issue with attitude from its officials, and the chummy relationship they seem to have with the replay booth means overturning blatant miscalls is a crapshoot at best.

    This is the biggest issue with the new targeting rule. I’m OK with it in theory, but the execution of the call was ridiculous the whole season long. The refs and the booth can’t be trusted to make this call right. Take Ray Drew’s ejection in the Georgia/Vanderbilt game, which was, well, here’s a clip:

    This is right after the ball leaves the Vandy QB’s hand. Ray Drew pushes him down. The flag came in *before Drew finished the hit*. This is a late hit at the absolute maximum and really should’ve just been a no call. And yet, the call on the field was targeting, and the ejection for targeting was somehow upheld by the booth. I can’t overstate how absurd this call was. How absurd upholding it was. How absurd kicking Drew out of the game for this was. (For what it’s worth, Ray Drew is like the nicest dude on Georgia’s defense; he’s even an ordained minister.) But it happened anyway, and the SEC front office’s response, via Steve Shaw, was “eh, it was probably the right call look over there, a squirrel!”.

    Rot from the head down.

    So…keep the targeting rule, I guess? Knowing that they’ll keep botching it because these guys operate on equal parts personal bias (“Georgia players are thugs!”) and ass-covering (“uh, he did what he could in live game time, he tries hard, blah blah fart”)? Whatever. These people have made this sport virtually unwatchable.

  16. @21

    Yeah, they were almost finished. In fact, I’m pretty sure that if FSU fails on that fake punt…or hell, even if they don’t try the fake and just punt the football, they lose.

  17. @14-

    I was specifically reacting to having watched the SF/GB game the night before which was rife with clear holding/PI calls that weren’t made. I realize pros is different than college, but the contrast was still pretty stark.

    As a Florida fan, how do I feel about “our” guy (Charlie Strong) going to Texas while “thei”r guy (Muschamp) brings in this third OC? Ambivalent at best.

  18. Frenchy signs with the Indians.

    Which Major League character represents Frenchy the best?

  19. @6,7 – I was thinking about this point myself. But I wonder, is Jeter bulletproof in NY because he keeps a low public profile, or because he won four championships out of the gate and then almost never had a prolonged slump? I’m pretty sure Jeter could be caught with a dead hooker at this point and NYY fans would shrug it off.

    I wonder if having a cult of personality within your fan base is the double-edged sword you refer to, or if it’s an extra layer of insulation should things go badly on the field. I think Freddie figures it’s the latter. I think he might actually be right.

  20. @21 – As an Alabama fan, I definitely understand how bad it is to lose on a KO return.

    @22 – I think the targeting rule should be banished forever more. I don’t think it’s done anything to stop concussions. I don’t think there’s enough data to prove it yet, but I think it’s resulted in more knee injuries since players are being coached to go for the knees.

    As I said, the Auburn call was a good one and FSU would have had an extremely strong argument if it hadn’t been called. On a totally unrelated note, the “escape artist” play that Aaron Rodgers made against SF included some of the most blatant holding I’ve ever seen in my life.

  21. #22
    This year’s UGA game in Nashville was so bad that I’ve tried not to revisit. For me, it was a little like the Eric Gregg/97 NLCS game.

    The instant it was over, I just erased it because 1) the key injuries had already wrecked the season, 2) the Dogs shriveled plenty on their own and 3) despite the Dogs’ special-teams meltdowns, the refs made 2 of the worst game-changing calls you’ll ever see.

    The Drew targeting call wasn’t even the worst one, IMO. The one on Ramik Wilson in the 4th quarter essentially gave Vandy its chance to win the game. You could argue that Drew deserved a penalty (not ejection); however, Wilson did everything right in breaking up a 4th-down pass, but got called for targeting. Vandy keeps the ball & scores:

    Jeter’s appeal? All of the above (minus the dead hooker & I’ll guess you’ve heard about the “gift baskets”).

    And don’t forget that over the years, Yankee fans have put up with some real rampaging assholes (owner, players, managers) and Jeter’s not close to being one of them. (Believe me, there are a lotta Yankee fans who never liked Reggie Jackson or George Steinbrenner.) As it relates to Jeter, kind of hard to have a more perfect career in this town.

  22. “Morris has flaws — a 3.90 ERA, for example. But he gets my vote for more than a decade of ace performance that included three 20-win seasons, Cy Young Award votes in seven seasons and Most Valuable Player Award votes in five. As for those who played during the period of PED use, I won’t vote for any of them.”

    Jack Morris last pitched in 1994. When does this smart bro think the PED era was, again?

    …not that I really expect him to be able to defend that sort of statement; “ha ha I troll u” seems to be the go-to attitude some of these voters take.

  23. Here’s an update counting the folk:

    The 2014 HOF Ballot Collecting Gizmo!

    Updated: Jan.7 – 1:35 ~ 155 Full Ballots ~ (27.2% of vote ~ based on last year)

    99.4 – Maddux
    96.1 – Glavine
    92.3 – F. Thomas
    78.7 – Biggio
    69.0 – Piazza
    61.3 – Bagwell
    60.0 – Jack (The Jack) Morris
    56.1 – Raines
    41.3 – Bonds
    40.6 – Clemens
    38.1 – Schilling
    29.7 – Mussina
    24.5 – E. Martinez
    24.5 – L. Smith
    23.9 – Trammell
    14.8 – Kent
    14.2 – McGriff
    9.7 – L. Walker
    9.7 – McGwire
    7.7 – S. Sosa
    5.8 – R. Palmeiro
    5.8 – Mattingly
    0.6 – P. Rose (Write-In)

  24. @30, it’s almost impossible to imagine having a better career in New York than Jeter. Gehrig, I guess — kid went to high school in NY, attends Columbia, is maybe the second-greatest New York Yankee ever, and then gives the most famous speech in baseball history as he helps fans deal with their angst over the unbearable pain that he was suffering.

    (This is based on a point I remember Tim Marchman making a while back, before his website disappeared.)

    Other than that, Mariano Rivera and Jeter have probably had the two most perfect careers in New York history. I don’t know who else comes close.

    I mean, hell, David Wright is quietly on his way to a Hall of Fame career with the Mets and is almost certainly having the greatest Met career among all position players — he’s probably the best Met not named Seaver — and most Mets fans are probably convinced that he isn’t doing enough to win.

  25. 27, 31 — Hard to take the HOF voting seriously.

    I’ve never been to the HOF. I’d still love to go. I’d love to take my kids. I’d certainly make some whiny comments about the Murph not being there. Then I’d just enjoy the historical narratives.

  26. Great transition from the David Wright/Derek Jeter comment:

    David Cameron does a little predicting on which 30 players currently playing are good bets to get to Cooperstown one day.

    Not too many surprises here. I can’t stand CC Sabathia, but whatever, dude’s a horse. I think Utley’s the best second baseman of my lifetime–by just a hair over Biggio and Tommy LaStella–so in my mind he’s a lock. Nice to see another nod at our Jungle-Boy, Kimbrel.

    It gets interesting down at the bottom of the list, though. No Heyward, but he lists Harper, Stanton, and Posey. Posey has actually outplayed Heyward over the exact same time-frame, but is older than him by three years, so that seems more like a wash to me. Stanton and Harper…look, I’m a homer and all, but Jason Heyward is a little more wonderful than they are. (So is Machado, for that matter–but he made this list already.)

  27. Oh, and there’s no mention of our favorite cheater, Mr. Ryan Braun–who before taking his suspension only averaged 5-war seasons for the first six years of his career.

  28. 36: The Harper pick is projection, and a fairly reasonable one. If the dude can stop running into walls, he could be pretty special.

    The Stanton pick over Heyward, with no mention of Heyward, is just bad. Cameron knows that a run is a run, whether you create it by running down impossible fly balls or by smashing ridiculous moonshots, but when it comes to Stanton, he forgets what he knows.

  29. I think Heyward could be pretty special if he would stop caving to the demands of his stupid appendix and replace his jawbone with adamantium. So there.

  30. Heyward is, to this point in his career, a talented guy with a knack for getting injured whose bat is not as advanced as his defense and baserunning. If he ever puts it together and has an MVP-type season, he’ll start appearing on lists like Cameron’s. But he hasn’t done that yet. As far as career arc goes, Jason Heyward could have a career like David Justice — talented, fragile — or he could be a lot better.

    Stanton, on the other hand, just hits a crapload of homers, and historically, voters tend to respond to that, notwithstanding the Steroid Era.

  31. @41

    I, as well, thought that was amusing. Though his ballot (while not to be confused with great) was a hell of a lot better than that guy who’s a current beat writer and voted for only Jack Morris, so maybe we shouldn’t laugh too much.

  32. I don’t know about Heyward, but if I had to pick a young Brave to bet on right now for the Hall of Fame, it would be Simmons.

  33. W.C.G., great job with this post! I really enjoyed reading it. Freddie picked up where Peter Moylan left off in regards to being the most entertaining Brave to follow on Twitter, and you highlighted that well.

    When those pictures of Freddie wearing the cape first surfaced, I read somewhere (I can’t remember if it was on twitter or in a comment in an article about it) that the person who made it had intended to just have Freddie sign it, but then he wanted to wear it and so they let him. According to the friend recounting the story, he never gave it back, even though you can see in the bottom picture that he had signed it. I don’t know if that is actually true or not, but if it is, it is kind of funny.

  34. Gurnick is clearly a moron. But I find more disturbing the whole BBWAA HOF monopoly in general. Most of them really have no understanding of baseball whatsoever. It’s not the 1930’s anymore, they aren’t the only people seeing the games.

  35. This appears to be a man who realized that he was utterly incapable of exercising his judgment when it came to voting and decided that he had to remove himself from voting altogether. But he still wanted to vote for Jack Morris.

    I get the sentimental Morris thing — it’s the guy’s last year on the ballot, and no matter what you say about the guy, he was a hell of a pitcher for a hell of a long time and he isn’t any less deserving of the Hall of Fame than Jim Rice or Bruce Sutter. He’d be far from the worst player in there and it wouldn’t hurt anybody to see him have a day in the sun. But it is logically incoherent to vote for Morris despite his playing in the Steroid Era, while at the same time remaining categorically opposed to voting to any and all players from the Steroid Era. You can say that Morris played most of his career before the Steroid Era, and that is true, but it is a nuanced point that defies any sort of categorical exemption for Steroid Era players. If you’re willing to apply nuance to Morris, then you should be willing to apply nuance to other players who played during the Steroid Era.

    The thing that I was most puzzled by was him saying that he would “abstain” from voting in the future. Does that mean that he will resign his voting privileges? Or that he’ll retain his privileges, but refrain from exercising them?

  36. The social media buzz and excitement around Freddie during the final vote campaign was feverishly high. Everyone on my feed was posting #VoteFreddie, as were all the Braves players, athletes in other sports (i.e. Rob Gronkowski and John Isner, to name a few), seemingly every Georgia-based business, and even some politicians. I remember thinking to myself “Man, this must’ve been what Atlanta felt like in 1991.”

  37. @40 “Heyward is, to this point in his career, a talented guy…” — so far, so good

    “…with a knack for getting injured…” — well that’s an extremely silly thing to say, unless you mean that Heyward, like nearly every player in baseball, has a knack for getting injured.

    Here are the average amount of games played per season so far in the careers of the four guys I brought up.

    Jason Heyward: 142
    Bryce Harper: 128
    Buster Posey: 112
    Giancarlo Stanton: 122

    Each player above has dealt with injuries and each of them has lost playing time due to management, whether extra time in the minors or, in the case of Heyward, losing playing time to a guy who licks his bat after foul balls.

    But you know what? Let’s adjust each of the other three guys’ average games up to give them a full 162-game season their first year, as if each of them were an opening day sensation like Heyward. With that adjustment, they’d look like:

    Harper: 140
    Posey: 125
    Stanton: 137

    So who exactly has a knack for getting injured?

    “whose bat is not as advanced as his defense and baserunning” — I find this statement misleading, although I can’t say it’s innacurate. Are the others’ defense and baserunning as advanced as their bats? Stanton’s defense was not good last season; Harper actually ran full speed into a wall; Posey…look, I adore Buster Posey. He’s nowhere near the player defensively that Jason Heyward is. Defensive runs saved (according to the fielding bible total runs) for the four of them so far:

    Heyward: 15, 15, 20, 16
    Harper: 14, 5
    Posey: 4, 3, -1, 4
    Stanton: 13, 3, 10, -7

    (Just to be sure it wasn’t a positional thing, I checked on some other catchers: Salvador Perez, Matt Wieters, and Yadier Molina–the only three I looked up–all have recent seasons with 15-20 defensive runs saved at the catcher position.)

    “If he ever puts it together and has an MVP-type season, he’ll start appearing on lists like Cameron’s. But he hasn’t done that yet.” — No doubt. And that’s why Posey is on it. He has a record of playing spectacular baseball. Heyward does not. Stanton does not. Harper does not. Of the three though, Heyward’s 6.4 win season in 2012 has come the closest, with Stanton’s 5.7 win season the same year a smidgen behind. Harper’s best season was also in 2012, when he earned 4.5 WAR. Heyward has come closer to putting it all together than you think. Certainly closer than the others.

    “…as far as career arc goes, Jason Heyward could have a career like David Justice…” — Well we don’t know exactly what the future holds, but:

    David Justice averaged 122 games per season and 3.1 WAR per season over a 13-year career (not counting his 18-game cup of coffee)that began when he was 24. His peak WAR was 5.2, but he had another two seasons of 5.1 WAR each.

    Jason Heyward has averaged 142 games per season and 4.125 WAR per season over a 4-year career that began when he was 20. His peak WAR so far has been 6.4, and he has had another season of 4.8 WAR. He has not yet played his age-24 season.

    “…or he could be a lot better.” — bingo! Now I’ll go out on a limb. I think Heyward puts up those MVP-type numbers, finally, four out of the next five years. I’ve seen it all from him, but not all at the same time. I think it’s about to converge. He’s as talented as Chipper, I think.

    (And actually, so are Harper and Posey. I don’t think so highly of Stanton.)

  38. Quick math correction: Jason Heyward’s average games played per season is 133. My point that he has not been exceptionally injury prone in comparison with other baseball players stands.

  39. I agree with Gurnick on one thing-it’s best that he not vote again. I was glad to see that the interviewer pretty much cut Gurnick a new asshole. Gurnick’s “explanation” was embarrassingly bad. How does this guy have a job?

  40. @53

    Total garbage that he can vote. Maddux is clean as a whistle and completely above reproach in how he represented the game, and under no circumstances should he be lumped in with the steroid cretins.

  41. @51, do you have any idea how few players put up MVP-type numbers in four out of five seasons? Heyward is great, but he isn’t Mike Trout.

    Also, how did you figure your games played math? Heyward has played 532 games in four seasons. That’s an average of 133 per year, not 142. Stanton and Harper have been injury-plagued too. That doesn’t mean that Heyward hasn’t been.

  42. @55 Some injuries are accidents and have no bearing on whether a player is injury-plagued or not…like Jason’s broken jaw and Posey breaking his leg due to blocking the plate.

  43. @51

    Nobody said anything about Mike Trout. All of the guys on Cameron’s list are great but they aren’t as good as Mike Trout or Albert Pujols. The next time I say Jason Heyward is as good as Mike Trout you can get indignant about it.

    Also I wish you’d read my comment at 52. I jumped on my math before you did. Anyway, that settles it. If Heyward is injury-plagued, Stanton, Harper, and Posey are injury-plagued. And they all made Cameron’s list. (But the real point is that none of the four of them have shown themselves to be injury-plagued.) Look, don’t be daft about the injury thing. It’s either “baseball players, with very few exceptions, are injury-prone” or “Jason Heyward does not have a knack for getting injured.”

    As far as whether Heyward is great? That’s arguable. Of the four guys in the discussion (e.g. Not Mike Trout) only Posey has put up even one fabulous season. But Heyward has come the closest of the others, and I foresee that he’s going to tear it up (the league, not his body) starting in April.

  44. Happy HOF Day!

    I am already planning my trip to see Maddux, Glavine, Bobby and Biggio (one of my favorite non Braves)

  45. @48: if you listen to the interview @44, he is clearly saying that he won’t turn in a blank ballot in the future, since that in effect raises the requirements for everyone else. The Jack Morris thing this year is just his last vote. In some ways, I think that helps his case a little bit… he’s just saying that he hasn’t liked baseball since 1992 or so…. why should a person who feels that way augment the membership of the HOF? The real question is why someone who feels that way works in baseball at all. When I soured on academia in 1983, I got out.

  46. @59

    On top of that, wasn’t it his job to police the game as a baseball journalist?

    Did he hear rumblings of steroid use during the time in question? If so, did he follow up on them or write anything?

    Also, steroids and PED weren’t banned by Major League Baseball during that time. So these guys technically weren’t cheating. How does he feel about greenies?

    He is just trying to draw attention to himself and it is working.

  47. @57, you predicted that Heyward “puts up those MVP-type numbers, finally, four out of the next five years.” It depends on how you define “MVP-type numbers,” but even if you just define it as finishing in the top three or top five of the MVP race, no one does that — other than Miguel Cabrera.

    The closest is Robinson Cano, who has in three of the last five. And Heyward has a long, long way to go before he’s the equal of Robinson Cano. What’s more, Cano has never won an MVP — one of the central arguments against a $300 million contract for him is that he’s never been truly the best player in his league, only one of the top three or so — so that challenges the question of whether he’s even produced “MVP-type numbers.” My point is that this projection for Heyward is more astronomical than you may realize.

    I did read your comment. I read when you gave the other guys an adjustment for a 162-game season. But I still don’t understand how you came up with 142 games a year for Heyward.

  48. “Edward Says:
    Quick math correction: Jason Heyward’s average games played per season is 133. My point that he has not been exceptionally injury prone in comparison with other baseball players stands.”

    Comment 52 in this thread.

    You’re right about my astronomical projection.

  49. Maddux goes in to the Hall as a Brave, right?

    P.S. I’m still kind of bitter that the Cubs retired his number. It felt like some sort of maneuver to “claim” him.

  50. @63

    Let’s put it this way: Of all the highlights of him on ESPN this morning during their segment talking with Tim Kurkjian, not one of them featured him in a Cubs uniform. If ESPN thinks of him exclusively as a Brave, I’m pretty sure that’s your answer.

    I don’t think this was even a question, by the way, but Glavine got the same treatment, so ditto for him.

  51. Two Atlanta pitchers, two Braves managers and another player with a Georgia connection (Thomas is from Columbus, Ga.)


  52. The universe is in harmony with Cox, Maddux, and Glavine going in the same year.

    How many votes did Biggio miss by? 1? 2?

  53. @71

    Two. Maddux got like 97.5% of the vote(?)

    BBWAA has around 15 total ass clowns that blow my mind.

  54. I hear he missed by two votes, and we know there’s at least one guy who refused to vote for anyone not named Jack Morris.

  55. Am I right to be a little worried about Smoltz, given how crowded the ballot is?

    Regardless, today is a great day to be a Braves fan.

  56. There will be a real outcry when they don’t vote for Jeter or Rivera. The New York media will hang them out to dry.

  57. @62, my bad for missing that, and I came off as a bit of a jerk about it. I apologize.

    Frank Thomas is from Columbus, he went to Auburn, and we drafted Tyler Houston over him. I will never get over that.

    Biggio deserved it, and I’m sure it hurts right now, but he’ll get in next year. I’m not worried about him.

    By the way, this Tom Boswell column about Maddux is wonderful.

    First, Maddux was convinced no hitter could tell the speed of a pitch with any meaningful accuracy. To demonstrate, he pointed at a road a quarter-mile away and said it was impossible to tell if a car was going 55, 65 or 75 mph unless there was another car nearby to offer a point of reference.

    “You just can’t do it,” he said. Sometimes hitters can pick up differences in spin. They can identify pitches if there are different releases points or if a curveball starts with an upward hump as it leaves the pitcher’s hand. But if a pitcher can change speeds, every hitter is helpless, limited by human vision.

    “Except,” Maddux said, “for that [expletive] Tony Gwynn.”

  58. “I voted Jack Morris for the HOF, but not Greg Maddux.”

    Take that one to the grave, buddy.

  59. I can not even begin to imagine the media onslaught if it was Rivera or Jeter the Morris Voter snubbed.

  60. @78

    In fact, my favorite part of that interview with the guy who voted for only Morris that Spike posted yesterday was the part at the end where the host was hyperventilating over whether or not this meant that he wouldn’t vote for Rivera…as if not voting for Rivera because he played in the steroid era would be more of an outrage than not voting for Maddux for the same reason.

  61. Fun fact of the day: The WAR of Jack Morris and Mariano Rivera combined is still 20 WAR shy of Maddux’s WAR.

    Maddux Facts:
    1. Had 6 straight years of 7+ WAR
    2. Had 8 straight years of 6+ WAR
    3. Had 12 straight years of 5+ WAR

    Jack Morris never even had a 6 WAR year.

  62. This is a great distraction from all the FSU crap on my Facebook. What a great day for Braves fans. Watching Maddux and Glavine highlights make me realize how spoiled we were in the 90s. We had a legitimate shot at winning 60% of our games in the nineties with Maddux/Glavine/Smoltz, and you just don’t have that anywhere.

    I kinda feel sorry that not only did Glavine share the limelight with Maddux during his playing days, he has to share his enshrinement in Cooperstown with him too.

  63. When your Hall of Fame case leads off with:

    His numbers are good, but Morris should be in the Hall for his intangibles, too.

    It should be obvious why Morris did not get in.

  64. @84 That was hilarious, and I think it seemed to illustrate the kind of relationship that we hoped they really all had together.

  65. Re: 15 non-Maddux votes cast. I’m sure there was some strategic voting going on this year. The scorn should be mostly reserved for those who left Maddux off while selecting less than 10. There was one blank ballot, and the idiot who voted Morris only. Anyone know of any others?

  66. Perhaps the most amazing thing about the Glavine/Maddux/Smoltz era was the longevity /durability.
    From 1995 to 2000 the Braves ran off consecutive seasons of 90+ wins, including 3 100+ and then added 2 more 100+ seasons in ’02 +’03.
    I’ve racked my memory over a trio who lasted as long with a team that had as much success. The Yankees of the late ’40s through the ’50s had great success, but the staff rolled over. The Giants had a similar streak 100 years back, but Christy Mathewson was the anchor. Everyone else that comes to mind, Connie Mack’s As during the Great Depression perhaps. The Orioles with Palmer, McNally, and Cuellar didn’t have the longevity. Anyone else or was Atlanta watching baseball history every day.

  67. Interesting piece on the new Cobb location:

    Schuerholz was asked if he expects the increased revenues received from the $400 million mixed-use development would be used to increase the payroll of star players to keep them from leaving for other teams.

    “We think so,” he said. “We’ve always put whatever profit we’ve made back into the growth and development of our team, either into the Minor League or into international signings or into signing commitments or just paying our guys more money to keep them, so we’ll continue to do that, that’s been our operating philosophy since I’ve been general manager and continues to be so today, so whatever we profit with we draw back into our product.”

  68. Then there’s this:

    JIM BOWDEN ‏@JimBowdenESPNxm
    Schuerholz: “I like our team but Frank is not done yet” Sirius 209 XM 89

    I guess that means we’re honing in on a Veteran Presence :)

  69. Just heard Dan LeBatard defending his protest vote on the grounds that the current process results in a lack of unanimity for obvious candidates like Greg Maddux. Never mind that he outsourced his vote to a group of strangers with no guarantee of any particular result (how easy would it have been to skew an online ballot in any wacky direction?). I cannot grasp the concept of protesting in a quest for unanimity among 571 people. LeBatard protests, therefore he must support the notion of protest, which is the very notion that renders unanimity among a large number of people impossible. He is protesting the right to protest! A voice in the wilderness advocating fascism!

    It’s a self-negating posture. I mean, say what you want about the rationale of Ken Gurnick, dude, at least it’s an ethos.

  70. Agreed that LeBatard’s defense is lame. If I were him, I would argue that the deadspin ballot is more defensible than Ken Gurnick’s on the merits. Then the argument becomes “if a bunch of anonymous people from the internet can put together a better ballot that the whole of the BWAA, what is the point of the BWAA?”

  71. Even that argument vanishes with the revelation that the Deadspin voters did not unanimously vote for Maddux. What’s he going to say, that the overwhelming consensus voted for Maddux, resulting in his getting the LeBatard vote? That’s just a microcosm of what occurred in the system he’s so sure is broken.

  72. LeBatard’s ballot managed to give Lil’ Jeffy Schultz a sad, so in that regard, it is a resounding success.

  73. @94 my argument is not about unanimouty, it is that consensus of rational people will lead to a rational result and that Gurnick’s ballot was not rational. This idea of ‘first ballot’ HoFers being somehow superior to the other entrants, but I suppose less so that the fictional “unanimous selection” is tiresome and only serves to denigrate the very careers who the hall is trying to celebrate.

  74. Wirfin Obispo, move over! The Braves have signed, equally as hard to pronounce, Atahualpa Severino! Looks like he’s a LOOGY candidate for AAA.

    A few other signings that have went unnoticed, rightfully so
    Ramon Moreno- doesn’t exist according to the baseball world, but is listed as a 24 year old RHP.

    Ruben Perez- an 18 year old catcher who also doesn’t exist according to the baseball world.

  75. LeBatard is a sports talk radio guy, and as such, he pulled a stunt. I really, really find it hard to manufacture outrage over him. He lobbed a water balloon onto his colleagues, and naturally they’re ticked off.

    The point is, there are a lot of people who do vote who probably shouldn’t, because they don’t regularly cover baseball any more, and haven’t done so for years. There are a lot of people who don’t vote who probably do, because they do regularly cover baseball, and have done so for years.

    What LeBatard did was a dumb stunt calculated for attention, and as such, he succeeded. The process is pretty badly flawed, and it needs to be fixed. If all they do is kick him out, that won’t be much — but in creating a precedent for stripping the credentials of someone who has forfeited his right to vote, it could be an interesting start.

  76. What LeBatard did was a dumb stunt calculated for attention, and as such, he succeeded

    Much like dozens of other voters have done with blank ballots or single votes or threats never to vote for a set of players that have had no official lifetime proscription from baseball or it’s hall. It’s clear a large number of the voters ignore or twist the process to suit their own agenda – it’s a little hard for me to get sore at a particular one doing so to try and change this.

  77. “it’s a little hard for me to ridicule a particular one doing so to try and change this.”

    Mo’ better?

    //And beyond that, it seems to have produced a perfectly cromulent ballot. At least his “stunt” produced a full ballot with acceptable HoFers

    Greg Maddux
    Frank Thomas
    Tom Glavine
    Mike Piazza
    Craig Biggio
    Edgar Martínez
    Jeff Bagwell
    Roger Clemens
    Barry Bonds
    Curt Schilling

    The non-stunters who turned in anything less than say 5 names are far more ridiculous in terms of damaging the actual HoF enshrinees than LeBatard here.

  78. Justice has been served! The penalty for turning a HoF ballot as good as any and far better than many is:

    Dan Le Batard Show ?@LeBatardShow 11m
    Max penalty: BBWAA just lifetime banned me from Hall of Fame vote and won’t allow me to attend a game as credentialed media for a year.

    Murray “I’ll submit a blank ballot for spite” Chass has not had his punishment announced yet, apparently.

  79. “The BBWAA Board of Directors has decided to remove Dan Le Batard’s membership for one year, for transferring his Hall of Fame ballot to an entity that has not earned voting status. The punishment is allowed under the organization’s constitution.

    In addition, Le Batard will not be allowed to vote on Hall of Fame candidates from this point on.

    The BBWAA regards Hall of Fame voting as the ultimate privilege, and any abuse of that privilege is unacceptable.”


  80. Why is a lack of unanimity evidence of a broken system? A broken system would be one in which a couple of windmill-tilters really do muck everything up. But unanimity isn’t required for election. Here we’ve had an election, three wholly deserving players were elected, nobody who shouldn’t have been elected was, and everybody who got serious consideration will be back next year for more (except for Jack Morris, who can’t say he wasn’t given every chance…and who will get yet more chances soon). I mean, talk about something I have a hard time getting sore about. The whole “will x be the first unanimous electee” story that pops up every few years is the very definition of media-manufactured outrage.

  81. “I don’t want 28 people entering the Hall at once, so I limited my checks on the ballot to three. That ought to be enough to go along with the three managers. Angst returns next year.” – Marty Noble, HoF Voter

  82. “We had a guy in Houston who voted for Jim Deshaies so he could write a column about it. He still votes. We had a guy in Houston ask for fan help in filling out his HOF ballot. He still votes.” – Richard Justice

  83. @112

    Agreed ! Are there folks in the HOF who might not deserve it (i.e. Phil Rizzuto, Lloyd Waner, etc); perhaps depending upon one’s definition as what constitutes a HOF career.
    It’s hard to argue, over the longer term, that anyone has been left out. The 75% threshold is a high bar, but as others have noted, it’s not the Hall of the Very Good.
    If Babe Ruth, Ty Cobb, Lou Gehrig, Ted Williams, Christy Mathewson, Warren Spahn, Walter Johnson, Hank Aaron and Willie Mays (the list easily gets longer) didn’t receive unanimous votes, why is it a travesty that no one did this year?

  84. Because I’d like to hear the rationale from someone not voting for Greg Maddux and who submitted a less than full ballot (and there were some). He has no PED taint, universally regarded as one of the top 5 pitchers to ever play the game. If the BBWA really believes that “Hall of Fame voting as the ultimate privilege, and any abuse of that privilege is unacceptable” any ballot that had no Maddux and less than ten votes is by definition abusive.

  85. Weird Alien Who Knows Everything About Baseball Except That There’s A Hall Of Fame: “Holy shit, I just heard that baseball has a hall of fame! That’s so cool!”

    Serious Baseball Fan: “Yeah, but the election process is broken.”

    WAWKEABETTAHOF: “Really? Oh, no! Who’d they elect this year?”

    SBF: “Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, and Frank Thomas.”

    WAWKEABETTAHOF: “Err…uh…I’m going to stand over there now….”

  86. Why wouldn’t he say “Boy, Guranick and other writers with an agenda sure screwed over a ton of guys, and with the ballot backlog, perhaps permanently”.

  87. He doesn’t know any of the minutiae. Remember, he just found out the place existed, so all he can do is judge the system by the result it spits out, which I think we can infer from his sudden apprehension he thought was okay. Hard to say for sure, though — he left in an awfully big hurry.

  88. I can imagine why if he knew everything about baseball stats and saw just 3 guys from a list elected to it’s purported “Hall of Fame”.

  89. Buried in a Deadspin article on Bobby Valentine claiming Ruben Sierra used steroids is this:
    Valentine alleged all three of this year’s HOF inductees “manipulated the system,” claiming Frank Thomas drew walks by “jumping out of the way from inside pitches” while Maddux found success by “using pitches that moved.”

    Once a clown, always a clown.

    Full article:

  90. #123
    I heard that interview on WFAN earlier today. If you think HoF voters require attention, I give you Bobby V…

    The last time he had a public forum, he essentially accused the Yankees of not doing enough for the community immediately after 9/11.

  91. The Nationals are a good team, and if they don’t fall asleep in the first half like they did last year, there’s a good chance that they’re going to be extremely dangerous all year.

    I can’t really find words to say anything about Bill Conlin. I’d rather not say anything at all about him.

  92. I don’t really understand the animosity toward anyone that says the Nats might be a good team. Perhaps they were overhyped last year, but it’s not as if they were the Mets.

  93. @130, from that article:

    “With the Atlanta Braves and Washington Redskins also under fire for their team names and mascots, it’s an issue that’s not going away, so don’t expect the Indians to hold onto Wahoo for too long. It will be a good look once it’s gone for good.”

    Did I miss something? Was there actually an increase in animosity toward “Braves” recently?

  94. @129

    I’m just giving you a hard time for deciding you were gonna be more of a Nats fan than a Braves fan last year and having it spectacularly blow up in your face.

    The Nats would have to have like 10 more seasons like the last one to be the Mets. However, the national media fawning over them because of that douche Bryce Harper and having it blow up in their face is equally amusing. And apparently they haven’t learned their lesson and are gonna try it again.

    If you’re gonna be a kind-of fan of both teams, you’re gonna have to learn to live with the fact that people on here hope your other team crashes and burns as spectacularly as possible, and won’t ever have anything nice to say about them, and aren’t gonna be too happy when the national media again picks the Nats to win the division as a consensus, despite the fact that we cut them into very small pieces last year.

    In fact, unless one team falters for multiple years, I think you’ll find it very difficult to be a fan of both, as they’ll probably turn into each other’s biggest rivals pretty quickly here, but I leave such moral quandaries to you.

  95. Is Bryce Harper a douche? Am I the only one who doesn’t think he’s a douche? Nick Swisher is a douche. T. Plush was a douche. Pierzynski is a douche. Probably Delmon Young, but I don’t know how he is day-to-day. Carlos Gomez is a douche.

    Y’all we need to come up with the all-douche team.

    Actually, I think Regression could be on the list.

  96. @133
    There was a nasty scouting report:
    “It’s impossible to find any talent evaluator who isn’t blown away by Harper’s ability on the field, but it’s equally difficult to find one who doesn’t genuinely dislike the kid.”
    “He’s just a bad, bad guy,” said one front-office official. “He’s basically the anti-Joe Mauer.”

  97. @131 I think they are just lumping teams together to make it look like there is something equivalent to Redskins.

    To me there is a huge difference, but I can’t speak for everyone.

  98. i cannot believe that the toxic pit’ (KO) that is still Penn State having had the good fortune to have had the classy O’Brien the first two post Paterno years and now lost him have appointed this neurotic idiot from Vanderville(?? i am no football guru as you can see) who leaves them with 4 rape charges hanging over his old team…

    could someone please explain the thinking behind this decision?

  99. @137

    Well, thing’s are always kind of murky when it comes to college sports and this type of thing. It’s certainly possible Franklin had nothing to do with it, and it seems the Vanderbilt/Nashville police came to that conclusion. Of course, you can always argue that he allowed a culture that led to some of his players not respecting women and so forth, which is what Olbermann was arguing, but that’s probably a bit unfair, as well. There’s a long distance between making an off-color remark about potential assistant coaching hires’ wives and this. Though I’m not a big Franklin fan by any means, I think Olbermann probably jumped to too many conclusions last night, which he has the tendency to do from time to time.

    The reason they want to hire him is simple. Vanderbilt was more-or-less a football wasteland for 60 years. They hired Franklin and he immediately made them relevant both in on-the-field and recruiting performance. He’s a good football coach and players appear to like playing for him.

  100. Why would they hire him? Franklin got results at a school that never won at football. Simple.

    Sure, Franklin can be annoying in a Tommy Lasorda way, especially if you don’t root for Vandy. But you’d never notice if he didn’t have some success.

    As for the rape allegations, it’s not been a pretty situation for a school that often seemed to enjoy lecturing other schools about their moral shortcomings (a little like Paterno-Era Penn State, actually), but I have no idea how much that situation had to do with Franklin. Perhaps the Vandy folk on the board might illuminate.

    This time, it’ll be a very different kind of challenge for Franklin. And, if you believe what O’Brien was saying on his way out, Franklin will find that out soon enough.

  101. I am sure that Penn State thoroughly investigated the Vandy rape situation and felt beyond confident that Franklin isn’t going to be charged with anything related to a cover up.

    Also, in the time Franklin has been at Vandy, they have had few arrests than any other school in the SEC.

    I’m not a big Franklin fan, but he is a great football coach and seems to run a clean program.

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