Dave’s Free Play, Tuesday 12/22/15

  • December 22, 2015

I’m not a member of the Baseball Writers of America Association. Therefore this ballot doesn’t count for anything. But I’m a seamhead to be sure, and therefore I just had to cast my votes for inclusion in the Hall of Fame. Just like the actual voters, I allowed myself the option of choosing up to ten players. I decided to fill the entire ballot, although I’ll admit it was a close call for me on a couple of the players. In any event, for what it’s worth, here’s the ten I’d like to see get into Cooperstown. By the way, the order is alphabetical, so they’re not in any particular order of preference.

Jeff Bagwell

Barry Bonds

Roger Clemens

Ken Griffey, Jr.

Trevor Hoffman

Edgar Martinez

Mike Piazza

Tim Raines

Curt Schilling

Larry Walker

A handful of comments. Yeah, I know all about the PED’s. Bonds is still as great a player as I’ll ever see, and Clemens was one of the best pitchers of all time. I don’t have a problem with them being penalized for whatever they did, but I figure not getting in right away was punishment enough. That’s just my two cents, I completely understand the stance of those who will never vote for them.

Griffey is a no brainer. In so far as he was never even remotely connected with ‘roids, my take is that anyone who doesn’t vote for Griffey should lose their voting privileges, and be replaced by someone with a functioning brain.

Piazza apparently is still Bonds/Clemens Light or something like that. Suspicions? Yep. Proof? None. If you’re asking me, I’d say he did but that’s conjecture. His numbers aren’t. Put the guy in already.

Raines should have been in years ago. He’s been getting penalized for hanging around as a part-timer for a bunch of years. I’m not docking Raines for that. He loved to play and didn’t want to retire. All I know is his prime was 11 years, and he was HOF material in that time frame. Good enough for me.

Bagwell has Hall of Fame numbers, period.

Schilling is borderline on his regular season data, but his post-season resume is insane. That puts him in on my ticket.

Hoffman had 601 saves. Yeah, I know, he pitched just one inning at a time. But his job was to close games and he’s got the second most saves of all time. That’s called doing his job better than almost anyone else ever did.

Edgar Martinez gets penalized because he was almost exclusively a DH. Like Hoffman, he did his specific job better than anyone else. I don’t see how the best retired DH of all time can be left out.

And finally, Larry Walker. Based on the percentage of votes he’s been receiving, he might well be among the most absurdly underrated players of all time. Coors helped to be sure, but if we’re going to diminish achievements based on a player’s home ballpark, we might have to toss a few present HOFers out because they derived some great benefits from where they performed as well. Walker has a .965 OPS for his career. I don’t care where you’re playing, that’s pretty damn impressive. He won an MVP and Walker also won seven Gold Gloves. I know I’m in the minority on Walker, but when I see the numbers, I see HOF and it’s not his fault he played in a favorable hitter’s park.

That’s my ten. Note that Billy Wagner would be on this list if I could go any deeper, but I ran out of room. I’m certain that he’ll move onto my ballot in the near future, probably as soon as next year.

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Split city on the Monday hoops and a dumb play on the defenseless Saints. One of the basketball losers was Oregon. That was a head shaker as Alabama got a career game out of a kid who normally shoot bricks from distance. That’s the randomness of this endeavor.

Today’s card is going to be pretty substantial as I have several college games that I will be playing, along with one of the bowls. For info on how to receive all my personal plays, along with what I think are unique guarantees, email me at cokin@cox.net.

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UC Irvine couldn’t throw it in the ocean early, but the Anteaters got things rolling in the second half to at least earn a push at worst. I played and sent the game out to my clients at -9.5, which was basically available all day, but on this free play ledger it gets recorded as a push. More college action tonight.

611 TENNESSEE STATE  @  612 ILLINOIS STATE

Take: ILLINOIS STATE -8.5

Here’s a game between one of the biggest early season surprise teams in college basketball, matched up against one of the more serious flops to date.

Tennessee State was a combined 10-51 the last two seasons. They’re sitting at 9-2 currently, so it’s safe to say the Tigers are exceeding expectations thus far.

Illinois State entered the campaign as a Top 100 power rated team. Not necessarily a powerhouse, but pretty solid. The Redbirds have not been good at all and limp into this one at 5-7, and they’re off a particularly disturbing blowout loss at St. Joseph’s.

This will be a homecoming for Tennessee State coach Dana Ford, who played at Illinois State and also spent time there as an assistant coach. The Tigers opened the season as a Bottom 50 entity but they’ve risen somewhat dramatically with this early run.

Make no mistake, I know it’s a dicey proposition to be backing a team playing as unsteadily as Illinois State against an under the radar riser like Tennessee State. But there are a few things I like here and I’ll make my case for the favorite tonight.

First off, Tennessee State’s best opponents to date are Ohio and Middle Tennessee and the Tigers lost both those games. They really haven’t beaten anyone noteworthy, with the best win against nobody. The Tennessee State wins are against teams with a combined D1 record of 7-55. So while that 9-2 is pretty, it’s also kind of phony.

As for Illinois State, this team is somewhat of a mystery to me. For whatever reason, they can’t put the ball in the basket. It’s just crazy how awful their offensive numbers are.

Redbirds coach Dan Muller has promised some changes are in store. “We’re trying to find guys committed to playing hard for their teammates no matter what happens,” he said. That sounds like a coach who is ready to shake things up to perhaps light a fire under his team. With this being the final non-league tuneup before MVC play gets underway, Muller knows he needs to get a little positive momentum going.

If Illinois State gets its act together, this game should not be close. The talent disparity here is substantial. That’s clearly a big if, as if the Redbirds play without much focus yet again, they might well have their hands full with a Tennessee State squad that is having fun finally getting on the right side of the results. But after bottoming out at St. Joe’s in a game not remotely as close as the final score indicates, I’m going to gamble the light goes on for Illinois State. I’ll give the points with the Redbirds.