Who Gets into the Hall First, Jeff Kent or Barry Bonds?

Once teammates in San Francisco from ’97-’02, Jeff Kent and Barry Bonds will be forever linked. The two formed a powerful duo in the heart of the Giants order for several years, leading San Francisco into the World Series in ’02 where they got served by the Angels. Both have strong personalities and were known to fight while in San Francisco despite winning many accolades. Bonds finished second in MVP balloting to Kent in 2000 — Kent’s only MVP season — while Bonds went on to win the next four. Each player enjoyed remarkable success offensively throughout his career. Bonds’ aided statistics may only be second to one in the history of the game, Babe Ruth. Kent’s offensive statistics as a second baseman are second to none when it comes to power. Both players were standouts during their time and changed the game. But both were also undoubtedly dicks.

So that begs the question: with Bonds not playing last season and Kent set to retire, who will get into Cooperstown first? It takes five years for retired players to be eligible for the Hall. Bonds will be eligible first but the ominous steroids questions will loom and enough voters might be deterred from electing him. Heck, if they couldn’t all vote for Rickey, Cal, or Tony, how are they going to all vote for Bonds? Then the question becomes whether or not Bonds gets elected in his second year, and whether or not Kent’s poor attitude toward the press will keep him from being elected in his first year. Kent’s going to get there because he doesn’t have any steroids questions surrounding him. But will he make it on the first ballot? It will be close. So the three outcomes are: Bonds gets there first, they get elected in the same year, or Kent gets elected first. I’m going with Kent first. Who you got?

How Long Before Ryan Howard Leaves Philly?

The big news of the day in the world of baseball — outside of the surprise that Jonathan Papelbon didn’t take the Red Sox to arbitration — was Ryan Howard’s submitted salary for the arbitration process. Howard has asked for an $18 million salary for the upcoming season while the club has offered 14 mil. He’ll receive one or the other, not something in between. Last year Howard won his arbitration hearing with the club, receiving $10 million rather than seven. That was his first year of arbitration eligibility given his status as a super-two player (most major leaguers need three years of service to be eligible for arbitration, Howard had played two and a half). My point is that Ryan Howard has already experienced the ugly side of the game once and will now have to sit through another round of his team arguing against him.

Players are humans too and there’s only so much criticism and negative sentament one can take. After his second year of arbitration with the club, particularly one after winning a World Series, he probably won’t have much love left for the organization and its front office. Imagine if Howard loses his arbitration case and is reminded how crappy his defense is and how many strikeouts he amassed? What will he think? Sitting behind Jim Thome in the minors all those years, Howard will be 29 this season and in his early 30s when he’s eligible to become a free agent and bolt town. He’s already seen the team extend Cole Hamels in order to avoid arbitration and no doubt can’t be happy about that. Now that he’s won the World Series, if the guy loses arbitration, I could imagine him asking for a trade. Keep your eyes on this case, because I don’t see Ryan Howard sticking with the Phillies any longer than he has to, the 2012 season being the earliest.

Alright, So Who Isn’t A-Rod Dating?

I’m really starting to wonder a few things here. For one, how the heck is A-Rod going to play this season with all the freaking off-field distractions he has. Two, how is A-Rod liking New York now that he has the paparazzi all over him. And lastly, since breaking up with his wife and moving onto Madonna, who hasn’t A-Rod been rumored to date? The man bangs a bunch of call girls you’ve never heard of and he’s also being spotted next to every celebrity. First Madonna, then Donna Karan on New Years, and now … Kate Hudson:

NOW that Madonna isn’t as interested in him anymore, Yankee slugger Alex Rodriguez is playing the famous-faces field. He got hit on in Parrot Cay over New Year’s by Donna Karan, and last week he took Kate Hudson (above) out on a date. Our spy says they had a three-hour meal at the Lure Fishbar with friends and were very cozy. Later, A-Rod went with Hudson to the Rose Bar, where they met up with her friend Ron Burkle. Hudson, currently starring in “Bride Wars,” has been single since Lance Armstrong dumped her. Said her rep: “Kate was at Lure with a group of 10 people.”

That he and Madonna are no longer an item is news to me. And Kate Hudson? I’ve said it a thousand times before, Rodriguez can do so much better. All I know is that if I were in a fantasy league this season, I wouldn’t have A-Rod on my draft list. How do you expect a guy to hit when he’s got all kinds of people following his every move, privately or publicly? And didn’t he get a new P.R. team? Aren’t they supposed to be helping matters and keeping him out of the papers?

Greatest Rickey Henderson Stories of All-Time

I wasn’t a huge Rickey Henderson fan growing up, probably because his greatness preceded my time and because I was too young to appreciate how colorful he was. Now that I’m older, I can truly love everything about Henderson. As a player, the guy wrote parts of the record books and is no question a Hall of Famer. Really, anyone who didn’t vote Henderson in needs his head examined. The best quote is by Bill James who says Henderson still is a lock Hall of Famer even without all the stolen bases. That’s true, meaning Henderson is a no doubter when you do add in the stolen bases. Now putting the on-field accomplishments aside, Henderson might very well be the best character in the history of the game. He might even put “Manny being Manny” to shame. Rickey was like the inventor of the athlete speaking in 3rd person trend. He was notorious for not knowing his teammates names and sometimes referred to them by position or what they did such as “Hey, knuckleballer.” And the stories about Henderson are legendary.

About a year and a half ago I presented some of the best Rickey Henderson stories ever. On the occasion of his induction into Cooperstown, I feel there is no better time than to bring these stories back. 100% Injury Rate (now with FanIQ) has a list of the greatest Rickey stories of all-time. Here are some of my favorites:

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Jimmy Rollins, Friend of the Radio Show Contest Winners

Maybe I’m more skeptical than the average person, but when someone comes knocking on my door I’m always expecting the worst. Apparently that’s not the case with Jimmy Rollins, or the kids who came a-knockin on his door was extremely persuasive. Some high schoolers were trying to win tickets to the Eagles/Giants game by getting a celebrity to call into a radio show to win a contest. Naturally they headed straight to J-Roll’s pad:

John Buto, 17, a senior at Kingsway Regional High, in Woolwich, Gloucester County, knocked on Rollins’ door after school Tuesday along with a few friends and politely explained the contest to Rollins. To Buto’s surprise, J-Roll invited the gang into his home and called Wired host Kannon’s show.

Buto says Rollins couldn’t have been nicer and spent about 15 minutes with the group as the call-in line was busy. Buto says he’s not worried about another listener getting a bigger VIP because “I don’t know who’s bigger than the shortstop of the World Series champion Phillies.” If he does win, Buto plans to take his buddy Steve Borkowski, with whom he hatched the plan to ask Rollins.

Unless he bought the star maps from some kid sitting in a lawn chair on Sunset Blvd., how did Buto know where J-Roll lived? And how cool is it that Rollins helped them out? Good thing it was January when Rollins likely didn’t have much to do (clearly), otherwise he would have been in season. That’s pretty sweet of Rollins to help the kids out.

Via Ben Maller

Sign of the Recession: Pat Burrell Only Gets $16 Million as Free Agent

In the off-season baseball free agent pool I had going — the one where I bragged about correctly predicting the Yankees would sign Teixeira and Sabathia — I also had Pat Burrell signing a four-year $60 million deal with the Rangers. That was the low end for contracts we predicted for Burrell, too. The guy may leave a lot to be desired with his defense, strikeout totals, and inconsistent batting average, but it was fair to figure that a 30 home run hitter and near 100 RBI and walk guy would get upwards of three years and 40 million for his services. Why else would he reportedly turn down a measly two year $22 million offer from the Phillies? I, like many others, felt that was a low ball deal by the Phils and that Burrell would comfortably receive more on the market. Apparently not.

For all we know, there could have been other solid offers on the table for Pat, but there likely couldn’t have been anything too significant money-wise otherwise he probably would have taken it. Think about it: Burrell just won the World Series — signing to win a ring probably wasn’t a top priority. Maybe the allure of playing in Florida (he played ball at Miami in college) and for a contender caused him to overlook the few millions he may have been leaving on the table. Still, I can’t believe that he signed for so little money. I guess I’ll brace myself for the impending two-year $20 million contract Adam Dunn signs. Here I was thinking sluggers were a premium and Pat Burrell goes out and signs for just 16 mil. To show you a sign of the times, Andruw Jones got more than that after a .220 season. As for my prediction about Pat signing with the Rangers, it appears as if I wasn’t too far off. And I’m glad the Rays got Burrell; now they’ll have a decent power bat to help them compete in the AL East.

Maybe That’s Why Mark Teixeira Didn’t Sign with the Red Sox

Mark Teixeira took a long time deciding where he would sign as his agent, Scott Boras, floated rumors regarding which teams were involved in the bidding for the high-priced free agent. The Angels were a player, as were the Nats and Orioles because of the hometown factor. The Red Sox were said to be closing in on a deal for Tex but then they said they were no longer a factor in the bidding. Not much later the Angels took their offer off the table and Teixeira unexpectedly signed with the Yankees. So what happened behind the scenes that made the Red Sox and Angels drop out of the running after appearing to be leading candidates? Murray Chass via SbB says it’s because Teixeira simply did not want to live in Boston:

“He just didn’t want to go to Boston,” the official said. “He didn’t want to be a Red Sox so Boras called the Yankees and said he really wants to be a Yankee.”

“The family issues and where they reside were obviously part of the decision. Tex and his wife had their discussions. I don’t know what that dialogue was.”

That last quote about the family issues were from Boras who said the deciding factor was the difference in the offers on the table, not geography. That quote seems to indicate otherwise. Knowing that Teixeira was an East Coast guy I figured the Angels were low on the radar though a team to be considered. It’s hard to know if that’s the reason Teixeira signed with the Yankees, but it seems like where his family wanted to live could be a factor. So could the $180+ million they offered him. In this scenario Teixeira got to go to a good team and get top dollar rather than a crappy team with good money (like the Nationals were offering). As long as the Yankees were willing to pay more than the Angels and Red Sox, why not take their money?