Alex Rodriguez Among 13 First-Timers on Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

Alex Rodriguez is getting his first chance…

The 46-year-old Dominican American former professional baseball shortstop and third baseman, businessman and philanthropist is among 13 first-time candidates on the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame ballot of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Alex RodriguezA-Rod, as he’s nicknamed, is joined by fellow first-timers David Ortiz, Ryan Howard, Tim Lincecum, Justin Morneau, Jimmy Rollins, Jake Peavy, Carl Crawford, Prince Fielder, Joe Nathan, Jonathan Papelbon, A.J. Pierzynski and Mark Teixeira, the Hall and BBWAA said.

A-Rod and the first-timers join 17 holdovers.

Steroids-tainted stars Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens make their 10th and final appearance on the BBWAA ballot along with Curt Schilling, who fell 16 votes shy of the necessary 75% in last year’s balloting. Schilling appeared on 71.1% of ballots, Bonds 61.8% and Clemens 61.6%.

Holdovers include Bobby Abreu, Mark Buehrle, Todd Helton, Tim Hudson, Torii Hunter, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Andy Pettitte, Manny Ramirez, Gary Sheffield, Sammy Sosa, Omar Vizquel and Billy Wagner.

Sosa also will be on the ballot for the final time after receiving 17% last year.

BBWAA members with 10 or more consecutive years of membership are eligible to vote. Ballots must be postmarked by December 31 and results will be announced Jan. 25.

Any players elected will be inducted into the Hall at Cooperstown on July 24 along with anyone elected by the Golden Days Era and Early Baseball Era committees, which are scheduled to meet on December 5.

No one was elected by the BBWAA in last year’s vote, and Schilling asked after the vote that the Hall remove him from the ballot.

“It’s all right, the game doesn’t owe me anything,” he said during a live video stream on his Twitter account.

Clemens has denied using performance-enhancing drugs and Bonds has denied knowingly using them. Bonds also has been accused of domestic violence and Clemens of maintaining a decade-long relationship with a singer who was 15 when they met.

Rodriguez was suspended for the 2014 season for violating MLB‘s drug policy and collective bargaining agreement, and Ortiz’s name was alleged to have appeared on a list of players who tested positive during 2003 survey testing.

“Long Gone Summer” Documentary, Highlighting Sammy Sosa’s 1998 Home Run Chase, Headed to ESPN

Sammy Sosa’s summeris heating up…

The 51-year-old Dominican former professional baseball right fielder will be the focus of a special documentary to air on ESPN.

Sammy Sosa

Sosa, who played in the Major League Baseballfor 19 seasons, primarily with the Chicago Cubs, is part of the focus of AJ Schnack’s, Long Gone Summer, an official selection of the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival.

It chronicles Mark McGwire and Sosa’s storied 1998 home run chase. For the first time, both men discuss that summer at length, including its undeniable complications.

The 1998MLB home run chase was between McGwire, a first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals, the Seattle Mariners’ Ken Griffey Jr., and Sosa, a right fielder for the Cubs. It resulted in McGwire and Sosa breaking Roger Maris‘ long-standing and highly coveted record of 61 home runs. 

McGwire broke Maris’s record on September 8 against the Cubs and finished with 70 home runs. Sosa finished with 66.

The documentary will air on Sunday, June 14 at 9:00 pm ET.

The film will be made available on ESPN+immediately after its premiere, along with the rest of the 30 for 30 library.

Rafael Furcal Earns First-Ever Spot on the MLB Hall of Fame Ballot

It’s a special first for Rafael Furcal

The 42-year-old Dominican former professional baseball shortstop is among 18 newcomers on the 2020 Hall of Fame ballot.

Rafael Furcal

Furcal, who retired from Major League Baseball in 2014, for the Atlanta BravesLos Angeles DodgersSt. Louis Cardinals and Miami Marlins. With St. Louis, he won the 2011 World Series over the Texas Rangers. He was the National League Rookie of the Yearin 2000 and a three-time MLB All-Star.

Other newcomers announced Monday by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America include Derek Jeter, Cliff LeeJosh BeckettJason Giambi, Paul KonerkoBobby Abreuand Alfonso Soriano.

Holdovers include Curt Schilling, who received 60.9% last year, Roger Clemens (59.5%), Barry Bonds (59.1%) and Larry Walker(54.6%). Schilling rose from 51.2% in 2018. Walker, on the ballot for the 10th and final time this year, increased from 34.1% in 2018.

Bonds and Clemens, whose candidacies have been tainted by allegations of steroid use, are both on for the eighth time. Clemens rose from 57.3% in 2018 and Bonds from 56.4%.

In all, 10 Latino former ‘ballers made the list… In addition to Furcal, Abreu, and Soriano, former players on the list include Eric Chavez, Raul Ibanez, Manny Ramirez, Carlos Pena, Sammy SosaJose Valverdeand Omar Vizquel.

Ballots are sent to more than 400 BBWAAmembers with at least 10 consecutive years in the organization, and a player must appear on at least 75% to gain election. Ballots must be mailed by December 31, and results will be announced January 21.

Anyone elected will be inducted July 26 along with any selections by the Hall’s modern era committee, which meets and votes in San Diego on December 8.

Players remain on the ballot for up to 10 years, provided they receive at least 5% of the vote annually.

Roy HalladayEdgar Martinez and Mike Mussina were elected along with Mariano Rivera in the 2019 BBWAA vote.

The ballot: Bobby Abreu, Josh Beckett, Heath Bell, Barry Bonds, Eric Chavez, Roger Clemens, Adam Dunn, Chone Figgins, Rafael Furcal, Jason Giambi, Todd Helton, Raul Ibanez, Derek Jeter, Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Paul Konerko, Cliff Lee, Carlos Pena, Brad Penny, Andy Pettitte, J.J. Putz, Manny Ramirez, Brian Roberts, Scott Rolen, Curt Schilling, Gary Sheffield, Alfonso SorianoSammy SosaJose Valverde, Omar Vizquel, Billy Wagner, Larry Walker.

Mariano Rivera Among 20 New Candidates on the MLB Hall of Fame Ballot

Mariano Rivera is on the ballot…

The 42-year-old Panamanian former Major League Baseball pitcher is among 20 new candidates on the Hall of Fame ballot for the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, joined by 15 holdovers headed by Edgar Martinez.

Mariano Rivera

Nicknamed “Mo” and “Sandman,” Rivera played 19 seasons for the New York Yankees. He spent most of his career as a relief pitcher and served as the Yankees’ closer for 17 seasons.

Rivera had 652 regular-season saves and 42 in the postseason that included five World Series titles. He was 8-1 with a 0.70 ERA in 32 postseason series.

Rivera was named the 1999 World Series Most Valuable Player (MVP) and the 2003 American League Championship Series MVP, and he holds several postseason records, including lowest earned run average (ERA) (0.70) and most saves (42).

Players remain on the ballot for up to 10 years, provided they receive at least 5 percent of the vote annually. Martinez and first baseman Fred McGriff (23.2 percent last year) are on the BBWAA ballot for the final time.

Other Latino players making the ballot include Venezuelan professional baseball pitcher Freddy García, Dominican former professional baseball player Plácido Polanco, Dominican former professional baseball outfielder Manny Ramírez, Dominican American former professional baseball right fielder Sammy Sosa, Dominican former professional baseball shortstop Miguel Tejada, and Venezuelan former professional baseball shortstop Omar Vizquel.

More than 400 ballots are being sent to eligible voters from theBBWAA, and a player must receive at least 75 percent for election. Ballots are due by December 31 and results will be announced January 22, 2019. Voters must have been members of the BBWAA for 10 consecutive years.

Here’s a look at the players on this year’s ballot for the Baseball Hall of Fame:

Hall of Fame Ballot List

  • Rick Ankiel
  • Jason Bay
  • Lance Berkman
  • Barry Bonds
  • Roger Clemens
  • Freddy García
  • Jon Garland
  • Travis Hafner
  • Roy Halladay
  • Todd Helton
  • Andruw Jones
  • Jeff Kent
  • Ted Lilly
  • Derek Lowe
  • Edgar Martínez
  • Fred McGriff
  • Mike Mussina
  • Darren Oliver
  • Roy Oswalt
  • Andy Pettitte
  • Juan Pierre
  • Plácido Polanco
  • Manny Ramírez
  • Mariano Rivera
  • Scott Rolen
  • Curt Schilling
  • Gary Sheffield
  • Sammy Sosa
  • Miguel Tejada
  • Omar Vizquel
  • Billy Wagner
  • Larry Walker
  • Vernon Wells
  • Kevin Youkilis
  • Michael Young

Miami Marlins’ Star Giancarlo Stanton Named MLB’s National League MVP

Giancarlo Stanton is a National (League) hero…

The 28-year-old part-Puerto Rican baseball star, an outfielder for the Miami Marlins, won the National League MVP title, edging Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds in the closest vote since 1979.

Giancarlo Stanton

Stanton became only the sixth player to win from a losing team. The Marlins were 77-85.

“I’m so thankful it happened and I’m going to enjoy this and work to get better,” Stanton said on ESPN’s SportsCenter.

Stanton finished the season batting .281 with 168 hits, 59 HRs and 132 RBIs. His homer total was the most in the majors since 2001, when Barry Bonds hit a record 73 and Sammy Sosa had 64.

Stanton got 10 first-place votes and 302 points in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Votto also got 10 firsts and had 300 points.

“Just so close,” Votto said, according to MLB.com, after learning the outcome. “[I’m] really, really grateful for the support. I cannot believe how close it was. I just can’t believe coming up two points short. It’s so cool in a way coming up that short. Most of the time it’s a landslide or it’s clear. This wasn’t that. That was one of the entertaining aspects of it. Because Giancarlo and I did things so differently and because we’re both on losing clubs, it was for me a very interesting vote.”

“I don’t feel terribly disappointed, not really because I think that it was just two very, very good seasons that went head-to-head,” Votto said.

Stanton is the first player in Marlins history to win an MVP award.

He led the majors in home runs, RBI, extra-base hits and slugging percentage, each of which set a Marlins single-season record, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Votto topped the majors with a .454 on-base percentage. Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt was third in the voting.

The last player from a losing team to win an MVP was Alex Rodriguez, who took the AL award in 2003 with Texas. The last NL MVP from a losing team was Andre Dawson with the 1987 Chicago Cubs.

Stanton joins Dan Marino and LeBron James as the only Miami pro athletes in a major sport to win MVP.

“That’s definitely good company,” Stanton said.

Houston Astros’ Star Jose Altuve Named MLB’s American League MVP

Jose Altuve is an American (League) hero…

The 27-year-old Venezuelan baseball star, a second baseman for the Houston Astros, has won the American League MVP award, beating out New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge by a wide margin and capping the Astros’ championship season with another top prize.

Jose Altuve

Altuve , whos stands at 5-foot-6, received 27 of the 30 first-place votes in balloting by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America

“I was surprised that I won it,” Altuve said. “I wasn’t expecting this.”

Altuve batted a Major League Baseball-best .346. He had 204 hits, 24 home runs and 81 RBIs for the World Series champion Astros.

It’s been over a decade since Altuve signed with Houston from Venezuela — only after he was sent home from one tryout and told he was too short.

“They told me not to come back,” Altuve said. “It was something me and my dad, he went with me that day, we were like, ‘We have to go again. We have to try again.'”

“It’s not a rule that you have to be 6-foot or you have to be really strong to play baseball and become a good player,” he added.

Altuve beat out a player who couldn’t be more different. The 6-foot-7 Judge won the AL Rookie of the Year award Monday. He set a rookie record with 52 home runs.

Jose Ramirez of the Cleveland Indians finished third.

Altuve said on ESPN’s SportsCenter that winning the MVP has fueled him for years to come.

“Winning the MVP has made me want to keep getting better and keep helping my team for the next whatever years.”

Altuve is one of two second basemen in MLB history to hit .330 in a season with 20 home runs and 30 stolen bases, along with Hall of Famer Roberto Alomar (once). Altuve has done it in each of the past two seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

Altuve is the second Astros player to win an MVP, joining Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell in 1994.

He is the third player during the wild-card era to be named his league’s MVP in the same year that his team won the World Series. The other players to do that since 1995 are Buster Posey (2012 San Francisco Giants) and Kris Bryant (2016 Chicago Cubs), according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

 

Giancarlo Stanton Hits MLB-Leading 54th Home Run of the Season

And the hits just keep coming for Giancarlo Stanton

The 27-year-old part-Puerto Rican professional baseball player hit his MLB-leading 54th home run of the season in the Miami Marlins‘ 6-5 loss to the Atlanta Braves.

Giancarlo Stanton

After being given a day off on Friday, Stanton hit the homer off rookie left-hander Max Fried in the first inning on Saturday night.

The ball would have traveled 456 feet unimpeded, according to MLB Statcast, and landed deep into the left-center seats.

Stanton’s 54 homers are the same number that Mark McGwire had through this date in 1999 and the same number Sammy Sosa had through this date in 2001, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Stanton has six homers against the Braves this season. He now has 15 more homers than New York Yankees rookie Aaron Judge and Oakland AthleticsKhris Davis, who were tied for second.

The previous Marlins record was 42 homers by Gary Sheffield in 1996.

Los Angeles Angels Star Albert Pujols Becomes Ninth Player to Hit 600 Home Runs

Albert Pujols has joined an elite squad…

The 37-year-old Dominican baseball star, an infielder for the Los Angeles Angels, on Saturday became the ninth Major League Baseball player to hit 600 home runs when he hit a grand slam off the Minnesota TwinsErvin Santana.

Albert Pujols

Pujols is the only player whose 600th home run was a grand slam.

The Angels designated hitter is the first player to reach 600 home runs since Jim Thome in 2011. The six-year gap between Thome’s and Pujols’ reaching the mark is the longest between players reaching 600 home runs since the 31-year gap between Hank Aaron (April 1971) and Barry Bonds (August 2002).

Among hitters with 600 home runs, only Babe Ruth (.342) had a higher career batting average than Pujols’ current .308 career mark.

Only Willie Mays and Aaron had more at-bats at the time of their 600th home runs than Pujols’ current total of 9,341.

Pujols’ overall accomplishments have been reflected in the three MLB MVP Awards he has won.

With his 600th home run, he joined Barry Bonds and Alex Rodriguez as the only players in major league history with three MVP Awards and 600 home runs.

Pujols (37 years, 138 days) is the fourth-youngest player to reach 600 home runs, behind Rodriguez (35 years, eight days), Ruth (36 years, 196 days) and Aaron (37 years, 81 days).

Pujols ranks second in St. Louis Cardinals history with 445 home runs, trailing Hall of Famer Stan Musial (475). They’re the only two players in Cardinals history who hit more than 300 home runs, and Pujols hit his in half as many seasons with the Cardinals as Musial. They both won three MVPs in Cardinals uniforms.

Pujols is the second player born outside of the United States to hit 600 homers. The other was Sammy Sosa, who had 609. Four of the five top non-U.S.-born home run hitters were from the Dominican Republic (Sosa, Pujols, Manny Ramírez with 555 and David Ortiz with 541). Cuban-born Rafael Palmeiro has the third-most home runs hit by a non-U.S.-born player, with 569.

Saturday’s home run was Pujols’ 78th at Angel Stadium, which ranks third for ballparks at which he has homered. The leaders are Busch Stadium (110) and Busch Stadium II (94).

Ortiz Hits Two Home Runs to Blast into the MLB History Books

David Ortiz has officially earned his place in the annals of Major League Baseball history.

The Dominican professional baseball player, nicknamed “Big Papi,” has become the 27th player in MLB history to reach the 500-home run threshold.

David Ortiz

Ortiz, a designated hitter for the Boston Red Sox, vaulted into the 500 club after hitting two home runs Saturday night in the team’s 10-4 victory against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field.

Ortiz is also the fourth player in the team’s history, and the fourth Dominican Republic native to surpass the 500 mark in his career.

Ortiz hit No. 499, a three-run home run, in the first inning off Rays left-hander Matt Moore, driving a 1-2 fastball over the right-field fence.

After popping out to short center field on a 3-0 pitch in the third inning, Ortiz led off the fifth inning against Moore, greeted by chants of “Let’s go, Papi,” and drove a 2-2 pitch into the seats.

Ortiz’s teammates poured out of the dugout and the relief pitchers ran in from the bullpen to greet him after he jogged slowly around the bases, stepped on home plate, brought his fingers to his lips, and then pointed to the sky.

Ortiz, just 10 weeks shy of his 40th birthday, achieved the milestone with a three-month power surge that has been matched only twice by a player of his age or older, Barry Bonds and Henry Aaron, over a full season.

On June 10, Ortiz had just six home runs and was batting .219, a performance that invited wide speculation that his celebrated career was winding down. Among qualified designated hitters in the American League, Ortiz ranked last in most major categories.

Red Sox principal owner John W. Henry acknowledged the skeptics.

“The guy, he’s the best hitter I’ve seen for the Red Sox for a long time,” Henry said at the time. “He’s not in his prime. He’s not going to hit 50 home runs. But is he going to hit 30? It doesn’t look like it this year. Is he getting older? Yes. But I don’t think any of us know [if the end is nearing].”

Even Ortiz revealed a sliver of doubt.

“Everybody’s time is up at some point,” he said. “I don’t think that’s my problem, though. I’ll keep on trying like I normally do.”

With 28 home runs in the span of just 273 at-bats, Ortiz erased all doubts that he’ll return in 2016 for his 20th season in the big leagues, the past 13 with the Red Sox.

He joins Manny Ramirez, Jimmie Foxx and Ted Williams as Red Sox players who have hit 500 home runs, and Sammy Sosa, Ramirez and Albert Pujols as fellow Dominicans who have reached that threshold.

Ortiz also solidified his case for induction into baseball’s Hall of Fame, a place which only this past year opened its doors to a second Dominican player, Ortiz’s former Boston teammate Pedro Martinez, and has historically resisted the inclusion of designated hitters.

Minaya to Serve as Special Adviver to the Major League Baseball Players Association

Omar Minaya is ready to help future Latino MLB players…

The 56-year-old Dominican former-player-turned executive, the former New York Mets general manager, has left his job as senior vice president of the San Diego Padres to become a special adviser to Major League Baseball Players Association head Tony Clark.

Omar Minaya

Minaya started in baseball management as a scout for the Texas Rangers, where he helped sign Sammy Sosa. He became the major leagues’ first Hispanic general manager with the Montreal Expos from 2002 to 2004. He left the Expos to become GM of his hometown Mets, who fired him after the 2010 season. He was hired by the Padres in December 2011 as senior VP of baseball operations under GM Josh Byrnes, who was fired last June.

“Our membership that comes from the Latin countries is growing,” Clark said. “That means having folks on staff that are reflective of those countries, that have the ability to communicate with players in their native language.”

Minaya will focus on international affairs and game development in the U.S., including amateur baseball. The number of Dominican and Cuban players in the major leagues has increased, and management hopes to get agreement on an international draft in the collective bargaining agreement that expires after the 2016 season. Currently, only players residing in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico are subject to a draft.

“These are going to be major issues as the game goes forward,” Minaya said.

He’s following the path of Hall of Famer Dave Winfield, who left his job as executive vice president/senior adviser of the Padres after a dozen years in December 2013 to become a special assistant to Clark at the Major League Baseball Players Association.

“It probably hasn’t happened very often,” said Clark, the former All-Star first baseman who took over as union chief after Michael Weiner’s death in November 2013.

Minaya is reversing the path of former major leaguer Tony Bernazard, who was a special assistant for the union from 1992 until he left to work for Minaya and the Mets from 2004 to 2009.

Clark said he expected it to be a long relationship. Minaya said it was difficult to leave scouting and player development.

“When you are a baseball operations guy, and you are a guy like myself, every morning you wake up and you’re thinking you’re in the hunt, the hunt for that player,” Minaya said. “Look, I love scouting. I loved being a scout. I loved talking to coaches, talking to family, talking to players, understanding that. Every day you wake up, if you’re the general manager, you try to get that trade. If you’re a scout, you try to beat somebody to a player.”