January 10, 2015 * [LINK / comment]
Four stars get tapped for Hall of Fame
Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, John Smoltz, and Craig Biggio were chosen by the Baseball Writers Association of America for induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame. They received 97.3%, 91.1%, 82.9%, and 82.7% of the 412 votes, respectively. (A player needs to get 75% to be accepted into the HOF.) According to MLB.com, "It was the first time in 60 years that the BBWAA has elected four players from the same ballot and the first time three pitchers were elected in the same year." The three pitchers were elected in their first year of eligibility, while Biggio was elected in his third year.
Johnson ("The Big Unit") spent most of his career with the Seattle Mariners and then moved to Arizona, helping the Diamondbacks win the 2001 World Series, sharing the World Series MVP award with Curt Schilling. Johnson retired as a Giant, which was appropriate for his height. (!) He received the Cy Young Award five times, striking out 4,875 batters in his career. Martinez played for the Montreal Expos, and then of course the Boston Red Sox (1998-2004), helping them win the 2003 World Series. He won three Cy Young Awards. Smoltz was part of the famed Atlanta Braves trio (with Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine, who entered the HOF last year), helping his team win the 1995 World Series. Unlike them, Smoltz played a full 20 seasons for the Braves, who went to the playoffs in 14 times during his tenure. Biggio (the only non-pitcher) is the first-ever Houston Astro player in the Hall of Fame; he played his entire 20-year career there, amassing 3,060 hits. He was a key factor in the Astros' first-ever World Series appearance in 2005. As for the other two "Killer B's" (famed Astros sluggers of the last decade), Jeff Bagwell received enough BBWAA votes to remain eligible for future HOF consideration, and Lance Berkman was not listed.
Mike Piazza missed the 75% cutoff by a small margin, and is all but assured of getting in next year. Several big stars who were tainted by the doping scandal were well below the needed threshhold, and probably will never make it.
Curt Schilling was reportedly miffed at not being chosen, blaming media bias against his conservative political activity. Or maybe he was just kidding! See Rob Neyer at foxsports.com. Schilling's a pretty classy, sensible guy, and grousing like that would seem out of character.
The four HOF-members-to-be appeared on David Letterman's "Late Show," doing the Top Ten list. For those (like me) who missed it, watch the replay at CBS.com. The induction ceremonies will take place next July 26 in Cooperstown. That will be one heck of an occasion!
Congratulations, Randy, Pedro, John, and Craig!
PNC Park major update(s)
I took care of another glaring deficiency in my lineup of stadium diagrams yesterday*, with a set of new exquisitely detailed renderings of PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates. It's not for nothing that they call it "The Best Ballpark in America." Once again, the inclusion of entry portals and structural members between the grandstand sections led to significant revisions in angles and positions. Going through my copious stock of photographs which I took there in August 2009 made possible a vast improvement in accuracy. One obvious difference compared to the old version (December 2010) is that there is no lateral walkway in the upper deck. There are, instead, a series of wide open flat areas, connected by a barrier between the upper and lower parts of the upper deck. Rigid "segregation" of fans is enforced in Pittsburgh!
I actually uploaded the newly revised images on Thursday night, and then discovered a few minor glitches during Friday, necessitating a series of fixes and uploads. Then in the late afternoon I came upon a significant discrepancy involving the scoreboard and adjacent seating sections. For example, by closely scrutinizing the photos I took there in 2009, I learned that the 2-3 rows of seats in the third level behind left field are directly beneath the scoreboard, and hang slightly over the second level. One thing led to another, until I finally got everything just right -- or so I thought. Today (Saturday) I found a discrepancy relating to the profiles, and had to change all of those. The key clue? The
circular heptagonal (!) rotunda pedestrian ramp near the left field corner. Each level is the same height, which meant that the height of the lower deck equals the vertical distance between the main concourse and the [lower-] upper concourse [-- as opposed to the upper-upper concourse]. That raised the total height of the stadium by about eight feet. So everything is perfect -- for the time being, at least. Am I a perfectionist? Guilty as charged.
I added a "new" photo to that page, taken from the lower deck behind home plate, toward left field. It was a cloudy day, which is why the image is only so-so, but it vividly depicts the incomparably awesome scenery of the ballpark and the urban backdrop. I hope it's sunnier the next time I go there.
* Actually posted early Sunday morning the 11th.