Milestones

While the Red Sox march towards 100 wins and an AL East crown, there are several milestones ahead of us now that Slamming Sammy Sosa notched his 600th homer on Wednesday. Sosa has had his share of problems: he was caught using a corked bat (but only one; the rest were clean) and was called to Capitol Hill to testify about steroids. He was lumped in with Mark McGwire and Rafael Palmeiro. We know that McGwire and Palmeiro used steroids. Is that true for Sosa? No one quite knows, but the steroid controversy has mostly avoided him.
Here are four major milestones within reach this season with projected date thanks to the mothership and my thoughts on them:
Tom Glavine: 300 wins, joining the 300-win club. Expected to happen August 27 (doubt it, it’ll be earlier). I am rooting hard for the local boy to do good. Tom Glavine has fashioned quite a career for himself as a lefty artist. He only has one Cy Young to his credit, which happened in 1991 when he was 25-years old. For Atlanta, he went 20-11 with a 2.55 ERA in 246.2 IP. In his career, he has a 3.49 ERA and has been nothing short of durable. In 1994 and 1995, he made 25 and 29 starts, respectively. Those were the only times he did not hit at least 32 starts every year since his second year in the bigs (first year: nine starts).
He had to adjust how he pitched as he got older and QUESTEC took hold of the system. He started living more on the outer corner and simply has been one of those pitchers that has been able to adjust to his current skills. Part of me used to hope that Glavine would end his career with the Red Sox … but now that the Red Sox are steeped in pitching and the AL has taken a bludgeon to the NL in recent years, I don’t hope for it. But he’s certainly deserving of 300 wins.
Ken Griffey, Jr.: 584 HR, passing Mark McGwire for seventh all time. Expected to happen June 30th. Griffey is a great player and standup guy who lost a lot of valuable time to injury. If he had remained healthy, there’s no telling how close he would be to Hank Aaron’s home-run record right now. In an attempt to quantify how many homeruns he could have had, I looked at his career numbers. In his last year for Seattle in 1999, he played in 160 games and notched 606 at-bats, a benchmark he would never reach again.
He appeared in 145 games in 2000 with 520 AB, and he’s projected for 547 AB this year, 44 homers in 156 games. In his years in between 2000 and 2007, he posted the following AB totals: 364, 197, 166, 300, 491, and 428. I added up all those at-bats and divided by games played. That gave me 3.51 at-bats per game. Next was to figure out how many games he should have played in. Out of seven years of 162 games a year, he only played in 49 percent of them. In his career, he’s played 75 percent of all games, including 2007. Let’s use this number to quantify how many games he missed. He should have played in 122 games per year, bottom line (in 2005, he surpassed this, playing in 128 games). Taking the difference of every game from 2001 through 2006 not including 2005 gives him 173 games missed.
Next step: Ken Griffey Jr. homers every 14.66 at-bats over the course of his career. We’ve established that he has 3.51 at-bats per game, and missed 173 games. This means he missed out on 607.2 at-bats. Divide that by 14.66, and you get 41.4 additional homeruns, giving Griffey 623 HR. Not to mention that if he had remained fully healthy, he wouldn’t have just played in 122 games … he would have played in at least 150. If that was the case, he would be sitting at 669 homers.
This guy is one of the best players of all-time, and we got to see him play at the same time as Barry Bonds.
Craig Biggio: 3,000 H, joining the 3000-hit club. Expected to happen June 30th. Barry Bonds, who many feel is the AntiChrist, is getting a lot of flak for chasing Hank Aaron’s record while posting a .283/.490/.572 line while Craig Biggio is feted (albeit also while flying under the radar) for his 3,000th hit and posting a line of .233/.273/.387. He has 2,992 hits and is quite simply, dragging Houston down. Houston is 31-41 going into Thursday night’s game, and a big reason has to do with Biggio. He is simply a horrible hitter now, and the Astros keep batting him leadoff!
As Keith Law said in yesterday’s chat: “Seriously, you’re making me want to write an article on how one player’s selfish pursuit of a rather meaningless milestone is helping to sink his team’s playoff hopes. Isn’t that a story? If his initials were B.B., don’t you think this would be a regular rant in sports sections everywhere? What if Biggio was African-American, or Latino? He’s getting a free pass. Just be happy with that.”
This is a very valid question. What if Barry Bonds was hitting .233/.273/.387? He’d be ridiculed all over baseball, not feted. Even Sammy Sosa is getting a little heat for hitting only .242/.297/.458. The slugging percentage and him being seventh in RBI kind of helps matters. Where is the outcry for Craig Biggio?
Look, Biggio was … was … a good hitter. He is not now. He might not even be a fit as a utilityman. And the Astros are being nice and Biggio is being selfish enough that the Astros are just basically conceding 2007. Unacceptable. Shoot me if this ever happens for the Red Sox. This is part of one reason why I’m a little sad the Red Sox will probably never have someone achieve a major milestone in a Red Sox uniform unless it’s a once-in-a-lifetime hitter like Ramirez. The Red Sox do not care about milestones. They care about production. If Biggio came up with the Red Sox, the Red Sox would have said “well … so long” after 2001. Sure, Biggio produced in 2004 and 2005, but in 2002, 2003 and 2006, he wasn’t exactly … good. Look, it would be really, really nice to see Manny hit his 500th homer this year. No doubt.
It will be nicer to see the Red Sox win the World Series.
Too bad the Astros don’t feel the same way about their team.
Barry Bonds: 756 HR, passing Hank Aaron for first all time. Expected to happen August 4th. Did Barry Bonds use steroids? Yeah, he probably did. A lot of evidence points that way. But at the same time, he has yet to be (a) suspended, (b) indicted, or (c) implicated by himself or other people such as Greg Anderson or Victor Conte as using steroids.
However, not only did Barry Bonds do what probably a lot of other major sluggers at the time did, he did it with a basic level playing field. Hell, it looks like everyone shot up with steroids way back then. I’ve even heard Jason Varitek’s name whispered.
As I said in an article in 2004:

Let us also remember that statistics were changed without asterisks. The pitching mound was lowered in 1969 to help batters. No asterisk. Ball and strike amounts were changed. No asterisk. Pitching rotations went from two- to five-man rotations. No asterisk. Turf stadiums came around. No asterisk. A tighter ball arrived. No asterisk.

I’m a Barry Bonds supporter because first of all, it still hasn’t been set in stone that he used steroids. I believe he used steroids, but it still has yet to be set in stone. Second of all… it was a steroid environment. Bonds did what he had to do. Was it smart? Yes, actually, it was. Does it go against moral fiber? For the average joe (us) … yes. But steroids are still being used to this day! Shawne Merriman made the Pro Bowl last year after testing for steroids. Guillermo Mota is about to return to the New York Mets after testing (and admitting guilt) for steroids. Jason Giambi has been allowed to go about in (relative) silence. If he was near Hank Aaron’s record, would people be hating on him as much as Barry Bonds is hated upon?
I say no.
I say go for the record, Barry.

Categories: Barry Bonds Bonds/Steroids Craig Biggio Ken Griffey Jr. Tom Glavine

Born on the 37th anniversary of the the day Babe Ruth died (1985) which later became the day Jimy Williams was fired in 2001 (a monumental event at the time), Evan was too young to experience the pain 1986 brought, but a deep wound was sowed in 2003. Since then, Fire Brand has become a blog that Red Sox “club officials read,” as per Peter Gammons. Evan enjoys working out, writing, reading, quality television, science fiction and history and being newly married. He is a professional baseball journalist as well as president of a state non-profit and member of the Board of Directors for a national profit. (Twitter.)

17 Responses to “Milestones” Subscribe

  1. sabes June 22, 2007 at 12:12 AM #

    or to rephrase, i believe glavine didn't miss a start due to injury his entire career until that taxi cab injury in new york last year (or year before?).

  2. Evan Brunell June 22, 2007 at 12:22 AM #

    Yessir!

  3. Mr. Furious June 21, 2007 at 8:22 PM #

    Not a milestone due this year by any stretch, but I see that there's a bit of a debate about putting Tejada on the DL. He's got a streak of 1,100-something games played going.
    Sorry Miggy, you can't pinch hit for two weeks, and if you play through it, you are really risking it for yoursef and you team. Give it up. Hit the DL and get healthy.

    I cannot believe the 'Stros are leading Biggio off. Terrible. I actually don't like Biggio for a couple of stupid, superficial reasons. I feel like he is gratuitously "gritty." The ridiculous five-sizes too big uni to help him net HBPs, the helmet with what has to be deliberately applied pine tar…He strikes me as the kind of guy who dives or slides unneccesarily to get his uniform dirty.
    Just go away.

    I was secretly hoping Bonds would have kept up his earlier pace to allow him to break the record at Fenway, where a massive "sit on your hands and ignore him" campaign could have been instituted. Maybe even throw the ball back? Well, one could dream…

  4. Kevin R June 22, 2007 at 12:34 AM #

    Um, ok, you can think what you'd like about Barry Bonds, but didn't he, you know, admit to taking steroids? In a federal grand jury? If you don't care, you don't care, that's your call, but saying that it's "not set in stone" is a little disingenuous.
    Also, I think Giambi absolutely would be reviled if he were anywhere close to Aaron. Hell, I don't like him now, though as a Sox fan I'm probably biased. ;)
    Frankly, these 'racism' insinuations ("what if Biggio were black or latino", "Giambi wouldn't be hated if it were him") are an insult to Hank Aaron, who really did have to deal with racism, and was able to do it with class.
    Anyway, enough about the big headed Giant and his ilk.
    A couple years ago I had hope that Manny would be challenging the career grand slam record, but since then he hasn't hit another one. Last grand slam for Manny was July of 2005 — he hit three that year, and none since… he needs three more to tie Lou Gehrig at 23.

  5. Chris C June 22, 2007 at 1:15 AM #

    Bonds did take steroids, by his own admission. He only claims that he 'didn't know what he was taking' when he did so. He has admitted, after the fact, that what he took was in fact steroids. Pretty ironclad to me.
    And if you believe that he 'didn't know' what that stuff was……then I have bad news for you….Santa Claus is not real. Nor is the Easter Bunny.
    Come on.
    As Tom Hanks said once, 'Wake up and smell the river'.

  6. Evan Brunell June 22, 2007 at 8:46 AM #

    Chris C is correct in his assumptions. That is what he ALLEGEDLY told the GRAND JURY. Those documents are sealed and part of conjecture. Am I trying to say that I don't believe he DID steroids?
    No. I do think he did, but I think that level playing field, etc. means he did what he HAD TO DO to survive.
    I also think that REGARDLESS of what I think, he has yet to be suspended or indicted.
    This is America, right? I know many people THINK guilty until proven innocent, but I'm afirm believer in the values that shape America.
    Barry Bonds is innocent until proven guilty. He has yet to admit that he took steroids on record. He has alegedly done so in sealed court documents, saying he was unaware of such steroids entering his body.
    This is America. I stand by what makes it great.
    As for Manny; I know! I totally agree. I was so excited that he was only three slammers away. "A lock," I said to myself
    Not quite…

  7. Dave B June 22, 2007 at 5:10 AM #

    Ok, i'm not a Barry supporter, but it's just a number. I understand that it's the biggest record in sport, but its not like baseball is a gentleman's game. Cheating has and always will be part of the game. From doctoring the ball, greenies, steroids, and now HGH, it happens. I hate it but i can't stop it. Bonds was the best cheater of this generation.
    We have no definative proof Bonds did anything, i can't lie about that. But we all know he did something. Isn't that all that matters. Clearly the record is jaded, but so are a lot of aspects in sports. Lets just sit back, have him break the record, and history will decide how to look at this.

  8. Sean O June 22, 2007 at 9:56 AM #

    1). Barry Bonds' head grew in size. As far as I know, that doesn't occur naturally.
    2). Because of this, I do believe he used HGH and other illegal substances.
    3). However, no one has ever provided even the teensiest bit of proof that steroids do a damn thing. They just as easily could've caused his massive knee problems, y'know, the ones that almost killed him in 2005.
    4). Thus, Bonds is one of the 5 best baseball players in history. The man belongs in a different league.
    5). However, again, I don't cheer for him. He's a racist, a tax cheat, and a first class, grade A asshole. And yes, I booed him at Fenway last Friday.
    6). Even with this, he's one of the most beautiful things to watch when he's on a baseball field. He doesn't swing outside the zone. I mean, oh my god. He figured out the game years ago.

  9. Evan Brunell June 22, 2007 at 6:09 AM #

    Now, HGH. That's something to fear. Steroids … mmm … not really.
    Bonds could use an attitude adjustment. NO DOUBT.

  10. Daniel Rathman June 22, 2007 at 10:27 AM #

    I'm a Giants fan and I still have trouble rooting for him…
    On a different note,
    http://msn.foxsports.com/mlb/story/6948160
    Anibal Sanchez is going to miss all of this year after having surgery to repair a torn labrum.

  11. Craig June 22, 2007 at 6:28 AM #

    I believe Bonds used steroids, but also happen to believe he was a HoFer regardless. Bonds is a student of the game whose hand-eye coordination is Williamsesque. You combine those things with his natural bat speed/athleticism and you're going to get a guy who'll hit 500 home runs naturally. When you throw in the added power that steroids grants, you get an unnatural freak who cut his number of plate appearances per home run in half at the age of 35.
    I don't buy the old everyone was doing it and, therefore, the playing field was level argument. The problem with it is this – only a tiny handful of players over the past 20 years have been as gifted as Bonds and maybe only one or two more so (Junior and ARod). Bonds already had the ability to hit pitchers who used steroids. Giving him steroids simply made him more formidable.
    Anyway, he'll break Aaron's record, though he doesn't deserve to. I can only hope ARod keeps smacking shots over the wall. As much as I dislike him, I find him to be a whole lot more palatable.

  12. Shane June 22, 2007 at 1:28 PM #

    I can understand the Astros keeping Biggio, but why the hell do they continue to have him lead off? Put him at nine and let him get his 8 hits. They've got to have a better lead off candidate.

  13. Samuel Lam June 22, 2007 at 5:19 PM #

    Griffey and Biggio and Glavine… all class act guys who deserve more attention
    heck, Sosa deserved a little more for what he did

  14. Arizona Phoenix Car June 24, 2007 at 5:35 PM #

    Bonds is going to break the alltime record this season. That said, I have been trying to figure out a way to change how we consider the greatest power hitter of all time. Perhaps if we look at the # of AB's it took to hit 600 or 700 home runs? Babe Ruth would take that honor, I think. Barry Bonds, blah.

  15. Scottsdale Car Auto June 24, 2007 at 5:36 PM #

    I have a lot of respect for Ken Griffey Jr. His name never comes up with regard to steroids. I hope for a healthy season for him and next year too.

  16. Arizona Phoenix Car Auto Insurance June 24, 2007 at 9:35 PM #

    Bonds is going to break the alltime record this season. That said, I have been trying to figure out a way to change how we consider the greatest power hitter of all time. Perhaps if we look at the # of AB’s it took to hit 600 or 700 home runs? Babe Ruth would take that honor, I think. Barry Bonds, blah.

  17. Scottsdale Car Auto Insurance June 24, 2007 at 9:36 PM #

    I have a lot of respect for Ken Griffey Jr. His name never comes up with regard to steroids. I hope for a healthy season for him and next year too.