Good morning, I’m Dan Gartland. I know he won’t make it, but I’m glad to see my man Andy Pettitte still on the Hall of Fame ballot.
In today’s SI:AM:
🌟 Why Scott Rolen deserves a Hall of Fame spot
🎙️ Lisa Guerrero on her terrifying “MNF” experience.
✈️ The best destination for Aaron Rodgers
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Welcome to Cooperstown
For the second year in a row, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America has elected only one player to the Hall of Fame.
In its sixth year on the ballot, Scott Rolen narrowly cleared the 75% threshold required for induction and will be honored this summer in Ballyconhair. Rolen appeared on 297 of the 389 ballots (76.3%).
Todd Helton came close to earn induction (72.2%) but fell 11 votes short. They were the only other players to appear on more than 40% of the ballots Billy Wagner (68.1%), Andrew Jones (58.1%), Gary Sheffield (55.0%), Carlos Beltran (46.5%) and Jeff Kent (46.5%). The two players whose candidates have been most clouded by steroid use –Alex Rodriguez and Manny Ramirez—fell well short, with 35.7% of the vote and 33.2%, respectively. You can see the full voting results here.
Rolen’s election is a surprise. As Tom Verducci wrote earlier this month, support for Rolen increased significantly after he appeared on 10.2% of the ballots in his first year. Before that, Duke Snider (17%) was the player with the least amount of support on his first ballot that was eventually selected by the writers. Since 1967, none of the 670 players who received less than 15% of the vote has exceeded the 75% threshold.
So what changed? Verducci suggests that voters began to look beyond box score stats and began to understand what made Rolen great: his baserunning and defense. Rolen’s batting statistics are impressive but not otherwise. Verducci points out that his career slash line (.281/.364/.490) is very close to that of Aramis Ramírez (.283/.341/.492)—and no one would consider him a Hall of Famer . Well, no one is apart of the four voters who put it on their ballots in 2021.
But Rolen did much more than just hit as an All-Star. This is how Verducci puts it:
If you appreciate how the game is played, and not just batting stats, Rolen played it like a Hall of Famer. The subtle beauty was the way he made plays on the run at third base or the perfect cut around the bases while going first to third or second.
Watch this highlight reel of his defense at third base and tell me a player who can do that and be among the best hitters at his position doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame.
You can see Verducci’s full ballot here, with explanations of why he voted for each player. After not voting for Helton in his first four years on the ballot, Verducci put the former Rockies slugger on his ballot this year after realizing his home/road splits. Like Rolen, support for Helton has grown significantly over the years, jumping a full 20% from last year to this year. After appearing on 72.2% of ballots this year, he has a good chance of clearing the 75% threshold next year.
If we’re already pining for Helton for the 2024 ceremony in Cooperstown, who could it be? We’ll see if Wagner and Jones can get over the tree after falling short this year. Sheffield will have to make a big leap in his final year on the ballot. Beltrán’s case is an interesting one. His Hall of Fame stats screamed, but Verducci was left off the ballot because of his role in the Astros cheating scandal, and other voters surely feel similarly conflicted. (“I was unable to vote for Beltrán in his first year of eligibility because of his key role — a leadership role — in the 2017 Astros sign-stealing scandal,” Verducci wrote.) The players who will be newly eligible for the Hall. next year, there is only one lock to be inducted: Adrian Beltre. Other players likely to appear on the ballot for the first time include David Wright, Chase Utley, Joe Mauer and Colonel Bartolo.
The best part of it Sports Illustrated
The top five…
… things I saw yesterday:
5. Two Sabers goals in a 25-second span against the Blues.
4. Putting back Donovan Mitchell’s windmill. (Though it didn’t count.)
3. LeBron James’ 46 points against the Clippers. (He has now scored at least 40 against every team in the league.)
2. Joshua Kimmich’s long-range laser for Bayern Munich.
On this day in 1989, Michael Jordan scored his 10,000th career point in his 303rd game. Of course, Wilt Chamberlain scored his 10,000th point faster, but who surpassed Jordan to become the second fastest player to reach the milestone?
- Oscar Robertson
- Moses Malone
- Sean Havlicek
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Yesterday’s SIQ: When the Panthers took former Michigan record-holding all-time running back Tim Biakabutuka with the eighth pick in the 1996 draft, he became the first modern NFL player from which country?
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- of Kenya
Answer: Democratic Republic of the Congo. Biakabutuka’s family moved to Canada when he was a child, and he was raised in Montreal, where he first started playing football as a 16-year-old. It was in high school that he chose the nickname Touchdown Tim, but his full name is Tshimanga (tee-MON-gah).
“I don’t mind, because I know it’s easier to pronounce,” he told SI in 1995 that he was called Tim. “But it’s not my name.”
As a senior at Michigan in 1995, Biakabutuka ran for 1,818 yards – a record that still stands today. In the rivalry game against Ohio State, he ran for 317 yards (the second-highest game total in Michigan history) and four touchdowns as the Wolverines took down the No. 1 Buckeyes. . Biakabutuka then played six seasons in the NFL, all with the Panthers.
Biakabutuka is one of six NFL players born in the Congo. The first was Wilkie Moody, whose parents were Baptist missionaries in the country when he was born in 1897. He played 15 games in four seasons between 1920 and ’25. The others are Muadianvita Kazadi (linebacker who played 12 games for the Rams in ’97), Henoc Muamba (13 games as a linebacker for the Colts in 2014), Andy Mulumba (22 games in the backfield for the Packers from ’13 to ’15). ) and Jonathan Kongbo (defensive end who played three games for the Broncos this season after a few years in the CFL).
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