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  • Caesar Cliffius

    My name is Cliff Eastham. I live in West Virginia with my wife Debbie, the loveliest lady in the world, and my youngest daughter, Holly who is equally as lovely as her mother.

    I enjoy writing about sports, and love a good healthy debate. My favorite teams are the Cincinnati Reds and the Washington Redskins.

    There are only a couple of sports that I don't write about, Hockey and Soccer specifically. My favorite sports are Baseball, Boxing, NFL, NCAA Basketball, MMA.

    Feel free to look around, and your comments are most welcome. Subscribe via email if you wish.

    It is decreed.....Caesar Cliffius
    this 8th day of December, in the Year of our Lord 2009.

Shocking News: Andy Pettitte Will Be Back with the NY Yankees in 2010

To report that Andy Pettitte will be back on the mound for the New York Yankees in 2010 is no more surprising than saying they will play their home games in the beautiful, new mini-park known as Yankee Stadium. Yet, ESPN reported it today.

If you will still be 37 until just before the All-Star break, you can make at leat $6,000,000 playing a game with other grown millionaires, where would the big surprise be that you intend to come back?

Pettitte had a very good year in 2009, especially when we use modern-day pitching records as a backdrop. 14 wins, that is just a win or two shy of Cy Young contention. Am I right?

Even though Andy failed to complete any of the 32 games he started, that is what they pay bullpens for. The entire Yankee staff only had three complete games, two for C.C. Sabathia and one for A.J. Burnett. Sabathia also recorded the lone shutout for the staff.

His record in 2009 was better than it was the year before. He completed 2009 with a 14-8 mark, 4.16 ERA and struck out nearly twice as many batters as he walked. Is he attempting a Hall of Fame run?

I don’t feel that he has accomplished nearly enough to gain entrance into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. Especially when you have pitchers such as Bert Blyleven, Tommy John and Jim Kaat all with basically the same number of wins (283-288), a much better ERA than Pettitte, who can’t get inside without a ticket.

He has been playing in MLB for 15 seasons, all but three with  pin-stripes. He was with the Houston Astros from 2004-2006 where he was 37-26 with a very good ERA (again, by today’s standards) of 3.38. He ranks third all time in Yankee lore with 192 wins, sixth in innings pitched with 2,406, and third in strikeouts with 1,722.

What would the legacy of Andy Pettitte be if he retired now?  Would he be too-easily recognized with the steroid crowd? Is he trying to outrun that image, could that be why he wants to play more? Would he be remembered for his two 21-win seasons? How about his post-season work? He has won 18 and lost only nine with an ERA of 3.90 in 40 post-season starts.

Did you ever wonder what, if any relationship he has with Roger Clemens? Remember, he threw Rog under the old proverbial bus back when Clemens couldn’t even pop-up from his hole and look for his shadow? I don’t think too many hold that against him, probably just the “gangster type” element who can’t tolerate snitches.

It should come as a shock to absolutely nobody that Pettitte will be back. The only thing left to haggle about his how many millions of dollars he deserves. He played all of the ’09 season making about 1/3 of what he made in the previous season. $5.5M, how did the boy get by? All joking aside, that is a big party-buster when you just made $16M for two straight seasons.

If the rest of the teams find out how much performance 33% will buy these days, we could see a completely new landscape, fiscally speaking of course.

So, just to be clear, is anyone surprised that Andy will be back in 2010?

Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report where this article was first published.

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Is The National Baseball Hall of Fame a Place Just for Altar Boys ?

Baseball fans wake up!

After reading an article by my good buddy and colleague Illya Harrell about how Pete Rose, as a manager, ruined the career of Mario Soto, I had to write this.

In his article, Illya said that because Rose pitched Soto on three days rest repeatedly, he killed Soto’s career prematurely. He also said that should be another reason why Rose should not be enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

It has always been my view that the Hall of Fame is for players who were exceptional on the field, period. I don’t feel it is necessary to involve the FBI with background checks, or investigators vetting someone to rattle all the skeletons from their closets.

The Hall of Fame is in critical condition folks. It is replete with drunkards, racists, adulterers and other forms of ill repute and debauchery. What is one more going to hurt?

Wait Cliff, you say drunkards are in the HOF? Yes, the great Babe Ruth was a known imbiber as well as Mickey Mantle, Whitey Ford and probably three-fourths of the men who played in the “dark ages.”

Racists, come on now. Okay, Ty Cobb was probably a card carrying member of the KKK if indeed it was in full vigor during his day. Cap Anson wouldn’t even allow his teams to play if there was a Negro on the opposing team. Color him Racist with the capital not edited out.

Adulterers, really Cliff? Don’t be so naive. There have been men throughout the ages who have stepped out on their wives. Baseball players are no exception. It was a common occurrence in the bygone days for men to “hook up” with women in certain cities on their schedules. Mickey Mantle comes to mind, sorry Mick I love you man.

What I am trying to show is that the Hall of Fame is not a place for “do-gooders”, Sunday school teachers, or altar boys. Not to say that there aren’t some in there, and I love them, but that is not, or should not be part of the criteria for enshrinement.

I am all in favor of role models, don’t misread me. That being said, I like what Hall of Fame member Bob Gibson said. “Why should I be a role model for your kid? Be a role model for your kid yourself.”

You could probably go checking into the lives of everyone of those men in the hallowed hall and find something with which to exclude many of them. I know gambling is against the rules, in fact the Golden Rule of baseball. However, when a man who has had more hits than anyone whoever put on a jock, won seven batting titles, had over 200 hits nine times, has done 20 years of humiliation (albeit self-imposed), he should be paroled.

Give him his due. If you who are reading this article feel he is such a criminal and low-life that he doesn’t belong, please open your own closet and let the skeletons walk free. Let them say, “Free at last, free at last. Thank God almighty, I’m free at last.”

Sources: Baseball-Reference.com

(c) 2009 Clifton Eastham All Rights Reserved.

Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist on Bleacher report, where this article was first published.

Pete Rose: Hall of Fame or Not?

(NOTE: This is a blog debate which was discussed between Cliff Eastham and Al Rinker, as part of the “Baseball Stew” program.”

CLIFF: Yo Al, I don’t care what anybody says about Pete Rose. He was as hard a worker at his craft as anyone whoever laced them up.

If he doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame. they should close it down. Whaddya Say?

___________________________________________________

AL: Cliff, they better lock the doors because Pete Rose does not belong in the Hall Of Fame.

Do I really need to tell you why?

Let’s start with gambling on your own team. I know you will say he didn’t bet against the Reds but how will we ever know that for sure?

Do you realize how many games he probably altered because of his addiction to gambling? How can you defend that?

_________________________________________________
CLIFF: I defend that by saying that gambling as a manager had no effect on his performance as a player.

The man has more hits than anybody. He’s probably the only player ever to give 100% on every freakin’ play.

_______________________________________________
AL: Cliff, does the word integrity mean anything to you?

Whether as a player or a manager, he gambled on the game and then lied to the American public for nearly 15 years!

We as a nation will forgive almost any mistake by a celebrity or public figure but don’t insult our intelligence when it was so obvious that he was lying. (See Roger Clemens)

The thought of Rose in the Hall with guys like Musial, Gehrig and Ripken to name a few would be a travesty! It will never happen.

________________________________________________

CLIFF: Integrity? Gimme Bullshit for $200 please Alex. Let’s talk Ty.

Ty Cobb had no integrity whatsoever. Players hated him, but he was a great player sans integrity.

Luis Aparicio must have had a tankful of integrity because he sure wasn’t worthy with his game (.262 with 83 HR). Please!

And don’t forget your old buddy Maz. Bill Mazeroski (.260, 138 HR) doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame any more than Joe Pepitone (with all apologies to Joe).

The institution is called the Baseball Hall of Fame, not Hall of Integrity, or Baseball’s Most Influential.

Where do we draw the line Al?

“This guy was a great player but he was a thief.”

“That guy couldn’t hit his ass with both hands but what a shining example.”

“The other guy batted .261 but he never got in any trouble. Who do we take?”

These may seem like extreme examples but I don’t think so. We should measure players by their life on the field, period.

If we want to judge players by their image let’s send ’em to “Who’s Who of America”, but not the Hall of Fame.

Now, I say Pete’s problems were at a time when he wasn’t playing baseball. The gambling did nothing to enhance his play on the field.

We can’t say the same thing about the players who have been found to be ‘juiced’.

Clemens, Bonds, Rafael Palmeiro, Conseco, Giambi, etc., should never see the inside of the Hall of Fame without paying at the door.

Their performance was clearly enhanced, not Pete Rose. He played hard, put up great numbers and did it all without any ‘helpers’.

Joe Jackson won’t ever be in the Hall either. Now, if he is guilty of what he was charged with, he should be banned.

His charge was actually trying to lose a game intentionally for monetary gain. That won’t do. I haven’t read up on him like I should have but I have heard people say that he was not one who was guilty of that crime.

If he was trying to lose, his stats show that he had a helluva way of doing it.

If not, he should be reinstated and installed by the Veterans Committee.

So, in closing, all you naysayers can sit in a corner and whine about Rose’s addiction to gambling.

I prefer to look at him being the only person with a major record who is not in the Hall of Fame. Shame on you all!


Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report where this article was also published.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame – Kiss up to the Writers

I would like to talk about the unfairness of the National Baseball Hall of Fame. It’s a sham when you think about it. No, I am not here to harangue about Pete Rose not making it in (although that is total BS). In fact it’s so wacky I don’t know where to start.

Let’s start with the most notable exclusions. We will begin with Andre Dawson. Please, somebody help me. 2,774 hits, 438 HR, 1591 RBI, and a career average of .279. He hit over 20 HR in 13 different seasons. Nice stats huh?

Let’s compare him with a Hall of Fame outfielder….say.. Max Carey. 2665 hits. 70 HR, 800 RBI, .285 AVG. Well, maybe Carey was the better fielder. Uh Uh….Dawson .983 Fielding Avg. Carey .966. Carey was a more prolific base stealer but come on, give me a break.

Maybe sports writers weren’t so arrogant back then. But if you compare donuts to donuts, you gotta take Andre. Did you know he had more RBI’s than Mickey Mantle? Go figure.

Someone who doesn’t belong there is Luis Aparicio. I am old enough to have seen him play (on TV) and know of what I speak. 262 AVG, 83HR , 791 RBI. Oh yeah he won several stolen base awards, but that even coupled with a good glove doesn’t get him in with today’s standards. He had fewer steals than Max Carey did.They must have been drunk when they let him in. He only had 2,677 hits. Today they usually say the “magic number” is 3000 hits. If you put ’em in because of their glove, let’s put Mark Belanger in there as well. I mean, ‘The Blade’ was known for his fielding prowess.
Ozzie Smith doesn’t belong there either. I don’t want to bore you with a whole bunch of numbers but he had fewer hits than Aparicio, not even 100 HR and less than 800 RBI while batting .262. Great glove, the Wizard of Oz. But give him some type of defensive prowess award, he is not worthy.

If he is, then so is Roger Maris. At least Rog won two MVP awards. He along with Dale Murphy are the only two time Most Valuable Player Award winners who are not in. He set a major league, single season HR record which stood longer than Babe Ruth’s. Was his career too short? Maybe, but look at Sandy Koufax. 12 seasons, and only the last 4 HOF material. Go figure. Great glove, strong arm. Maris Pissed off too many reporters. He will never make it unless the Veterans Committee decides what an injustice has been done and writes him in.

Now we can talk Rose. Best hitter of all times. All times. Cobb, Williams, Musial, you name it he tops it. What happened?

He bet on baseball games. Bet, he did not throw them. There is a difference. I know, rules are rules Cliff. Right, but he has done his time! Time to put him in or redefine a whole bunch of stuff.

Do we let alcoholics in? Sorry Babe. Do we let women chasing adulterers in? Sorry Mick and Whitey. Do we let cheaters in? Sorry Gaylord Perry (spitballs). Sorry George Brett (pine tar). Steroids. Sorry every modern day player on the field.
Steroids makes good conversation. Look at them. Bonds, Sosa , Palmeiro, McGwire, Brady Anderson, Luis Gonzalez. Wait, who said anything about Anderson and Gonzalez? Over 50 HR each. Never before or after was anything close. Coincidence, I doubt it.  Just sayin’.

It all boils down to getting your nose brown. You just have to suck up to the writers and broadcasters if you want in. Argue with them, show them no respect and you won’t get in. I don’t care if you win 300 have 3000 hits, 600 HR or a .320 AVG, make them mad and you are out! Yeah, I know Steve Carlton made it and hated the press corps. They had to let him in. I mean check those numbers out if you get a chance.

Some great players miss it and some run-of-the-mill players get in. It will never pan out.

Now I’ve pissed the rest of the writers off and will never get my chance to make the biggies as a writer.

The Five Best Players Not in Baseball’s Hall of Fame

There are many things we could disagree with or argue about concerning the Baseball Hall of Fame.

There are no set numbers one needs to reach before becoming enshrined into baseball’s holiest of holies.

Many are there who, in my opinion, do not belong. And of course, there are others who should be there who are not.

Obviously, Pete Rose would lead the list if he were eligible.

So, read on, and argue if you will, but these people have the stats to be in the Hall of Fame.


5. Dale Murphy

Okay, I can hear you guys crying already. Murphy wasn’t the greatest player of all time, I agree.

I also know that his overall stats alone say very little. For his career, he had 398 home runs, 1266 RBI, 2,111 hits, and a career average of only .265.

Total career statistics aren’t everything. Look at Sandy Koufax, for example. He only had five superlative years, the rest were mediocre at best.

Yet, he is revered as one of the best hurlers of all time.

If you take Murphy’s five best years and average them out, you get 38 home runs, 109 RBI, and an average of .294. Those are MVP stats right there, I don’t care who you are.

In fact, he won two MVP awards during that period. He and Roger Maris are the only two players to have won two MVP awards and not be in the Hall of Fame.

Shameful.

Dale was one of the best power hitters of the 1980’s.

4. Don Mattingly

That’s right, Donnie Baseball.

Again, his career stats won’t reveal what he truly was.
He was the American League MVP in 1985, won nine Gold Gloves, three Silver Sluggers, and lead the league in batting in 1984 with a .343 average.

In 1985, Mattingly knocked in 145 runs. As with Murphy and Koufax, if you take his five best years and average them out, you see that he belongs in the Hall of Fame.

3. Tommy John

Tommy John has won more games than any eligible pitcher not in the Hall of Fame.

However, John has also won more games than 52 pitchers already in the Hall of Fame.

In his long career, he won 288 games, compiled a 3.34 ERA, threw 46 shutouts, won 20 games three times, and was elected to four all-star teams.

He started more games than any left-hander in history, save for Steve Carlton.

If I had the time, I could show you head-to-head how he would beat many who are already enshrined. The man has a surgery named after him, for God’s sake (grin).

2. Bert Blyleven

Bert Blyleven is right behind John in career wins with 287. He ranks fifth on the all-time strikeouts list behind Nolan Ryan, Randy Johnson, Roger Clemens, and Carlton.

He threw 60 shutouts, which ranks him ninth on the all-time list. All eight pitchers ahead of him are in the Hall of Fame.

He won 17 or more games on seven occasions and had a lifetime ERA of 3.31.

When you look at some of the pitchers’ records who are already in the Hall, you begin to realize just how much Blyleven and John deserve to be in as well.

1. Andre Dawson

Andre Dawson is not in the Hall of Fame. That doesn’t quite sound right, does it?

He batted .279, hit 438 home runs, and knocked in 1,591 runs. He hit 20 or more home runs on 13 occasions and was the National League’s MVP in 1987 on a last place team.

He was also the Rookie of the Year in 1977.

Dawson was on eight all-star teams, won eight Gold Gloves, and four Silver Sluggers. He also batted .300 or more five times.

Year after year, he is overlooked by the writers.

If you have the time, compare Dawson’s statistics with those of Hall-dwellers Luis Aparicio and Bill Mazeroski.

Let the debating begin.


Cliff Eastham is a Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report where this article was first published.