Nothing gets the baseball blogosphere more riled up than a good old annual debate over players' Hall of Fame credentials, so to save time down the road, I thought I would jump ahead 25 years. Look for the following piece in the January 2037 issue of Baseball Kindle Digest ...
The new year's HOF class will soon be announced! With Commissioner Costas recently having expanded the entry number to six, here are this writer's picks for baseball enshrinement:
--Jose Reyes. A no-brainer. After he went to the Miami Marlins back in '12, his career exploded, and he became the 5-tool player everyone expected maybe he would become at some point. How does 3,000 hits, three batting titles, nine Gold Gloves, and consecutive rings with the Marlins, Tigers, Padres, and Brooklyn Rays sound?
--Brett Lawrie. The first certain Hall of Famer to finish his entire career with one team since Derek Jeter, Lawrie also put Canadian major league ball back on the map and paved the way for the expansion Vancouver Riots in 2032. In addition to his two triple crowns, Lawrie finished with 640 lifetime homers, three MVPs and one world title, so chalk him up!
--Michael Pineda. Clearly the best pitcher in Seattle franchise history after Felix Hernandez, Pineda should follow King Felix into the great Hall of Cooperstown. It's unsure whether he'll go in as a Mariner or a Yankee, who he played for his last five seasons, but either way it's written in stone.
--Eric Hosmer. He hit like Musial, charmed like Big Papi, and for 19 years played the game the right way, compiling over 3,100 hits and over 500 homers. It's unsure whether he'll go in as a Royal or a Yankee, who he played for his last nine seasons, but either way it's written in stone.
--Kevin Slowey. Enough already. How many years will the Veterans' Committee ignore the accomplishments of this man, who salvaged a sketchy career as a starter to become the most dominating baseball closer since Joel Hanrahan? I understand saves were retired as a meaningful relief statistic 10 years ago and replaced with RPWHIP and PADJROB, but come on, ever since Slowey escaped a bases loaded jam against Buffalo in icy conditions during the 2016 ALDSWCS, he was a pitcher who just knew how to close.
--Albert Pujols. This was a tough call. Sure, he finally retired in 2031 after an unprecedented 30-year career and amassing 976 home runs and a career OPS of 1.037, not to mention two world titles with the Cards, four with the Angels and three more with the Yankees, but you have to wonder about his freakish stamina and muscle tone. I realize there's no evidence per se that he was using Murdoch Labs' infamous Expando-Wrist pills, but there had to be a reason his batting average skyrocketed from .366 to .378 back in 2027, right? Consider this vote a cautious one.
Jeff Polman has authored three fictional baseball replay blogs, The Bragging Rights League being his latest, and is preparing a new one for mid-February. His first novel, "1924 and You Are There!", an adaptation of his first blog, will be available soon on Amazon.