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The new home of the Oakland A’s?

It’ll be a beauty. If it’s built.

https://www.sfchronicle.com/projects/2021/oakland-athletics-stadium-graphic/

Your guaranteed accurate 2021 Major League Baseball predictions


Remember: The predictions are always correct; it’s the actual players playing in the actual games who muck them up!

NATIONAL LEAGUE WEST: Los Angeles, San Diego, Arizona, San Francisco, Colorado

The easiest of the six divisions to predict. The Dodgers have all the ingredients needed to win perhaps 108 regular-season games; but more importantly, they’ve finally figured out how to win in October. The Padres will cruise to one of the wild card spots. 

NATIONAL LEAGUE CENTRAL: St. Louis, Milwaukee, Chicago, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh

First and last are guaranteed; the middle three are good enough to be average or average enough to be well out of the playoffs. The Cardinals tried to improve in the offseason; the other four didn’t. At least three in the Cubs’ opening-day lineup could be gone by August.

NATIONAL LEAGUE EAST: Atlanta, New York, Washington, Philadelphia, Miami

This should be the most entertaining division in baseball. The Braves are good enough to make a deep playoff run, and the Mets should be good enough to do the same. The difference between the two teams right now might be familiarity with the others on the roster.

Ranking the NL 1-15:

Los Angeles

San Diego

Atlanta

New York

Washington

St. Louis

Milwaukee

Philadelphia

Arizona

Chicago

Miami

San Francisco

Cincinnati

Colorado

Pittsburgh

AMERICAN LEAGUE WEST: Houston, Oakland, Los Angeles, Seattle, Texas

The Astros remain at the top (and perhaps for only one more season), but a championship contender they are not. Oakland lost too much talent to steal the division. If the Angels are even just a little better than predicted, they might…nah, they’re never better than forecasted.

AMERICAN LEAGUE CENTRAL: Chicago, Minnesota, Cleveland, Kansas City, Detroit

There’s lots of hype surrounding the White Sox. If Tony LaRussa’s old-school mentality fits with a free-wheeling club, Chicago might be the best pinstriped team in the AL. The Twins remain dangerous; they’ll attract less attention than Chicago, and might steal the division.

AMERICAN LEAGUE EAST: New York, Tampa Bay, Toronto, Boston, Baltimore

The Yankees should win this division; they’ll make one major move when it matters. The Rays won’t slip too far despite the off-season trades, and the more impressive bullpen keeps them ahead of the Blue Jays, the team that might fall victim to too much hype.

Ranking the AL 1-15

New York

Chicago

Minnesota

Tampa Bay

Houston

Toronto

Cleveland

Oakland

Los Angeles

Boston

Kansas City

Seattle

Detroit

Texas

Baltimore


NATIONAL LEAGUE PLAYOFFS (based on the expectation of five teams making it)

Wild Card: New York beats San Diego. I trust the Mets’ ace more than the Padres’ top guy.

Divisional Round: Los Angeles beats New York, Atlanta beats St. Louis. The benefit of winning the NL East is apparent, no?

Championship Series: Los Angeles beats Atlanta. The Braves might be better than last year, but the Dodgers are. And they already were the best team.


AMERICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS (again, based on a five-team format)

Wild Card: Tampa Bay beats Minnesota. Until the Twins show they can win in October, well…

Divisional Round: New York beats Tampa Bay, Chicago beats Houston. You think the Rays will beat the Yankees again in the playoffs? Um, no.

Championship Series: New York over Chicago. The White Sox aren’t at the elite level yet.


World Series

The hype, the drama, the history of the franchises. And the Series lasts five games.

Los Angeles beats New York

Padres, reliever Melancon agree (sources)


Attention, Pittsburgh Pirates fans…

https://www.mlb.com/news/mark-melancon-padres-deal

Curt Schilling is denied the HOF again. A wise choice?

Longtime baseball fans will tell you Curt Schilling was one of the sports so-called big-game pitchers. Take a look at his career stats, and you find that he won 216 regular season games over a two-decade career; however, when the post-season rolled around, Schilling was almost perfect. He posted an 11-2 record with a stunning 2.23 earned run average.

But unless the veterans committee at some point in the future decides Schilling deserves a place in the Hall of Fame, he won’t ever enter baseball’s shrine without buying a ticket.

Schilling has told Hall of Fame officials he doesn’t want his name to appear on next year’s ballot, the final year in which he’d be eligible. That comes after the news he just missed receiving enough votes this year from the media to earn enshrinement.

The Boston Globe has reprinted most of Schilling’s lengthy social media post that explained his decision. I found this part to be most interesting:

Even the thought of responding to claims of ‘nazi’ or ‘racist’ or any other term so watered down and rendered meaningless by spineless cowards who have never met me makes me ill. In modern times responding to such drivel somehow validates the claim. My love of this country has always been worn on my sleeve. My desire to do the right thing and be a good person has driven most of my life choices. I stood at my locker 400+ times after my starts and took every question and answered honestly. Those people who stood there asking the questions KNOW what they are claiming is untrue yet they quote, re-quote and link to one another story after story that began as lies and grew into bigger ones.

Schilling’s politics are as clear as can be: He’s a hardcore conservative, and someone who’s never been afraid to state his political beliefs. And in today’s white-hot social media environment, Schilling’s posts instantly are magnified. It’s fair to say that some of the things he’s written go beyond basic decency, and he raised plenty of eyebrows by showing off the Nazi items he owns.

Put it all together and Schilling is convinced his political positions and controversial commentary have blacklisted him.

At least one baseball writer thinks Schilling doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame, but not for the reason you might think.

Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy has no sympathy for Schilling, and he’s thrilled Schilling “won’t be darkening the doorstop of Cooperstown next summer.”

Shaughnessy diverts from his obvious disdain for Schilling arguing that multiple former Major League Baseball pitchers who have career stats similar to Schilling’s also are not — and should not be — in the Hall of Fame.

Look him up on Baseball Reference and you’ll see that the ex-players he most closely resembles are Orel Hershiser, Bob Welch, Kevin Brown, and Tim Hudson. None of those guys are in the Hall and none of them travel with Schill’s baggage.

Baggage.

What baggage can a baseball player carry and still make it into the Hall of Fame?

Outfielder Barry Bonds, 1st baseman Mark McGwire and pitcher Roger Clemens — all of whom put up statistics demanding enshrinement — likely won’t ever be; fairly or not, they’re the faces of the steroid era of the 1990s and early 2000s. No Major League Baseball player has more hits than Pete Rose, but he’s an even less likely candidate for enshrinement because he bet on baseball games, including some involving the team he was managing.

In comparison, Schilling is a rabid conservative who often has crossed the line in what he’s written. Did he cheat as a player? There’s zero evidence to suggest he did. Did he bet on baseball? Again, zero evidence. So, which is it?

Is Schilling a really good, but not great, pitcher with stats that aren’t worthy of the Hall of Fame? Or is he being denied a rightful place in Cooperstown because of his political ideology and some incendiary comments?

There are 81 pitchers in baseball’s Hall of Fame, and 30 of them won fewer than 216 games. Let’s dismiss 26 of those 30 because they were primarily relief pitchers or because they played most, if not all, of their career before the 1950s, a much different baseball era than now.

The remaining four are Don Drysdale, Roy Halladay, Sandy Koufax, and Satchel Paige.

Paige should be omitted from this conversation because he played most of his career in the Negro Leagues, ensuring that his Major League Baseball numbers look flimsy. His Negro League statistics were anything but, by the way.

Drysdale and Koufax had their careers shortened by injuries; there’s every reason to believe Drysdale (209) and Koufax (165) easily would have eclipsed 216 wins had they remained healthy. Koufax’s case is elevated even more because he remains in the conversation discussing the game’s best-ever pitchers.

That leaves Halladay.

Put Schilling’s and Halladay’s stats side by side and you get this:

Schilling: 19 seasons, 216-146, 3.46 ERA, 3116 Ks; 11-2, 2.23 ERA in postseason (4 appearances)

Halladay: 16 seasons, 203-105, 3.38 ERA, 2117 Ks; 3-2, 2.37 ERA in post season (1 appearance)

There’s a case to be made for Schilling, but it’s not an exceptionally strong one especially when the only pitcher who can fairly be compared to him played three fewer seasons, threw a no-hitter in a playoff game and died tragically in an airplane accident.

The top 10 sports stories of 2020*

20Oct17, Photo: Anthony Moretti

*Coronavirus is not considered in this list; the impact it had on sports all over the world is so obvious that it ought to be its own Top 10 list.

Here we go…

10. The Los Angeles Dodgers finally get it done, winning the World Series and ending a 32-year championship drought.

9. LSU wins the college football national championship. The Tigers, behind Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Joe Burrow go 15-0 and break the vise-like grip Alabama and Clemson have held on the sport.

8. Two different stories involving black race car drivers. Lewis Hamilton — again — dominates Formula One. Hamilton wins his fourth straight championship and seventh overall. This year, he wins 11 of the 17 races the sport contested. In the U.S., a different story, as NASCAR drivers rally to support Bubba Wallace after a noose is found in his team’s garage before a race in Alabama

Public Domain image

7. Vanderbilt’s Sarah Fuller goes from an anonymous college soccer player to the first woman to play in a major college football game in the span of one week. She later converts an extra point, becoming the first woman to score in a major college football game.

6. The Houston Astros can their general manager and manager after Major League Baseball releases its report about sign stealing.

5. Russia is again sanctioned, this time for two years, amid accusations of state-sponsored doping of its elite athletes.

Public Domain photos

4. College athletes move closer to being able to profit off their name, image and likeness.

3. Kim Ng is named the general manager of the Miami Marlins, becoming the first woman to hold that position in the history of Major League Baseball.

2. Athletes from across sports embrace the Black Lives Matter movement, offering public demonstrations in support of equality, racial justice and more.

1. Kobe Bryant, one of his daughters and seven other people die in a helicopter crash. Bryant, who played his entire career with the Los Angeles Lakers, was only 41 years old.