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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.

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.

My MLB NL All-Stars: 1950-2000

I realize I am opening myself up for criticism, chastisement, name-calling, and various and sundry forms of debauchery, but here goes.

This article delves into the second half of the 20th century. I am selecting my All-Star team for the National League from 1951-2000.

Being fully aware this is highly speculative and probably will reflect bias of some sort, I give to you my National League Second Half of the Twentieth Century All-Star Team.

I am old. Keep that in mind. When I was a kid, TV was run by Gas, and rainbows were still in black and white. Therefore, if it is a tossup between the first 25 years and the last 25, you know who I’m picking.

C – Johnny Bench – Cincinnati Reds

Johnny Bench ruled his position in the National League from 1968-1980 being selected to the All-Star team each year.

He hit 389 home runs, knocked in 1376, and had a career average of .267.

These are not Hall-of-Fame numbers, I agree. However, I guess the writers have different standards for different positions. How else could Bill Mazeroski be in there?

Johnny also added 10 consecutive Gold Gloves to his trophy case. He was elected to the Hall-of-Fame in 1989.

1B – Stan “The Man” Musial – St. Louis Cardinals

Stan Musial played outfield and first base. Since there were many more great outfielders of this era than first basemen, I thought I’d put “The Man” at first to leave the outfield open for others.

Stan was my father’s favorite player, period.

He had a lifetime batting average of .331. His 3630 hits are 4th on the all-time list. His 6134 total bases are 2nd only behind Hank Aaron.

He was the National League MVP three times.
Musial should be on anyone’s all-anything all-star team. He also played on 24 All-Star teams, an all- time high.

Musial was elected into the Hall-of-Fame in 1969.


2B – Pete Rose – Cincinnati Reds

If you have read anything I’ve ever written, you knew Pete Rose would be on this team somewhere. The beauty of Pete’s career is that he played almost everywhere.

I decided to put him in his initial spot at second.

I know the name itself starts arguments, creates fistfights, and makes friends, enemies. But say what you will about the man, you cannot knock him as a ballplayer.

Everyone knows he is the all-time hits leader with 4256. His lifetime average was .303, which plummeted because he didn’t have the sense to quit when he should have.

He batted .300 or higher 15 times. He had over 200 hits 10 times and scored 100 runs 10 times.

Charley Hustle was one of the best ever. Show the love people.

3B – Mike Schmidt – Philadelphia Phillies

Boy, it was tough putting Schmidt over Eddie Mathews and Ron Santo. It was gut-wrenching I tell you.

Schmidt hit 548 home runs, had 1507 RBI, and scored 1506 runs. He was the National League MVP in 1980, ’81, and ’86. He was voted to 12 All-Star teams and won 10 Gold Gloves.

If they ever make a movie of Mike’s life, Chuck Norris has to play him.

Mike was elected into the Hall-of-Fame in 1995.


SS – Ernie “Mr. Cub” Banks – Chicago Cubs

Ernie Banks is probably the most clear cut position player on the team. I mean, who else you goin’ to, Dick Groat?

Ernie is as much noted for his saying ‘Let’s play two’ as he is for his batting prowess.

Banks hit 512 home runs, knocked in 1636, and had a lifetime average of .274.

Ernie played from 1953 to 1971 and was on 14 All-Star teams (some of them were seasons when they played two All-Star games). He was the National League MVP twice and led the league in home runs twice.

Ernie was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1977.


LF – Frank Robinson – Cincinnati Reds

Frank Robinson was one of the best players who ever played the game and is perhaps the most underrated. You hear about Mays, you hear about Aaron, you hear about Clemente and Musial. Where is the love for Robby?

He was the National League Rookie-of-the-Year in 1956. The man won the MVP award in the American and National Leagues and is the only player to do so.

He is also one of eight players to win the triple crown award, which he accomplished in 1966 with the Orioles.

His career totals are 586 homers, 1812 RBI, scored 1829 times, had 2943 hits, and a career average of .294

He played the “terrace” in Crosley Field better than any outfielder I ever saw.

Frank was voted into the Hall-of-Fame in 1982.


CF – Willie Mays – San Francisco Giants

Willie Mays is the best center fielder who ever played. Don’t argue with me. Ty Cobb was great, but Mays was one in a lifetime.

He hit 660 home runs, had 1903 RBI, batted .302, and had 3283 hits.

Willie played from 1951-1973. He won the Rookie-of-the-Year in 1951 and also won two National League MVP awards.

He appeared in 24 All-Star games, won 12 Golden Gloves, and batted over .300 on 10 occasions.

Mays was voted into the Hall-of-Fame in 1979.


RF – Hank Aaron – Milwaukee Braves

Hank Aaron played from 1954 till 1976.

He is the true All-Time Home Run leader, whether he wants to admit it or not.

Hank blasted 755 home runs, 2297 RBI, 3771 hits, a career average of .305, and appeared in 24 All-Star games.

He won the National League MVP award in 1957, and was voted to the Hall-of-Fame in 1982.

OE – (Outfielder Emeritus) – Roberto Clemente – Pittsburgh Pirates

Roberto Clemente could not be left off a team like this, so I had to invent a position (Honorary Fielder).

He played from 1955-1972. He hit 240 homers, knocked in 1305, and had 3000 hits.

Roberto was voted to 15 All-Star teams, won 12 Gold Gloves, and was the National League MVP in 1966.

Clemente was elected to the Hall-of-Fame in 1973, one year after his tragic death.


RHP – Bob Gibson – St. Louis Cardinals

It was a tough decision coming up with the best right-handed pitcher of the last half of the 20th century. Many to choose from: Marichal, Drysdale, Feller, Early Wynn, Ferguson Jenkins, Seaver,…..the list goes on and on. I thought about Greg Maddux who would have won had I gone with wins exclusively.

There was more to look at however. Greg only won 20 one time. Gibson did it 5 times. Hell, for that matter Ferguson Jenkins won 20 seven times.

Gibson had one of the best seasons ever in 1968 when he won 22 games and posted a scary 1.12 ERA. His WHIP that year was an amazing 0.85

Bob played from 1959—1975 and won 251 games. He finished with a career ERA of 2.91.

He was voted to nine All-Star teams. He was 2-1 with a 1.89 ERA in World Series games, with 92 strikeouts in 81 innings.

Bob was elected to the Hall-of-Fame in 1981.

LHP – Warren Spahn – Milwaukee Braves

I know, I know. Koufax could pitch rings around him, blah, blah, blah. Listen, Koufax only won 165 games in his career. He only won 20 games three times.

When you look at their whole body of work (I hate when people say that) you can see that Spahn was spectacular. He was a 20-game winner 13 times. Did you read that right? 13 times. How incredible is that?

Spahn is 5th on the all-time wins list with 363. He finished with a career ERA of 3.09. He is 6th on the all-time list in shutouts with 63.

Warren pitched from 1942-1965. He was voted to 17 All-Star teams. He won the Cy Young Award in 1957 while they were awarding only one pitcher in the Major Leagues.

Spahn still holds the National League record for career home runs hit by a pitcher at 35.

He was voted into the Hall-of-Fame in 1973.


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