Larry King Passing, Enrique Hernandez Leaving, and the Upcoming Hall of Fame Announcement

(OC Register photo)

There are multiple topics I wanted to cover today, the first of which is the sad news about the passing of Los Angeles Dodgers fan and broadcasting icon Larry King.

Whenever I think about prominent Dodgers fans, King is always near the top of my list, as his allegiance goes back to the team’s Brooklyn days.

Howard Stern is the only other interviewer I can think of who could rival the type of introspection that King evoked from his guests.

If you ever want to learn more about a figure who was famous in the 80s, 90s, or 2000s, search YouTube to see if they were ever on “Larry King Live.”

It’s as useful of an educational tool as there is to learn about iconic pop culture and political figures, and Larry is going to be missed.

RIP, Larry. Thank you for all the good times, and for entertaining us through your multiple decades as an interviewer and TV legend.


The second topic I wanted to cover was the departure of Enrique Hernandez, who signed a two-year deal worth $14 to join the Boston Red Sox.

Hernandez was a versatile utility piece that helped the Dodgers sustain this run of excellence that most recently resulted in a World Series title.

Hernandez was acquired by the Dodgers back in December 2014 in a trade that also landed Austin Barnes, Chris Hatcher, and Andrew Heaney and sent Dee Gordon, Dan Haren, Miguel Rojas, and cash back to the Miami Marlins.

Hernandez added a spark to the lineup with his ability to play multiple positions and do damage against lefty pitchers.

He was also an invaluable asset to the clubhouse, always providing the ability to lighten the mood through his personality.

This most recent postseason, he became the first player to ever hit a pinch-hit home run that either tied the game or took the lead in a winner-take-all postseason game.

Hernandez played an integral role in helping to deliver this championship, and it’s impossible to thank him enough for all he did to help this team.


The third topic I wanted to discuss is the Baseball Hall of Fame, which is scheduled to announce their Class of 2021 on January 26.

There are a few former Dodgers players on the ballot who I believe deserve enshrinement to the Baseball Hall of Fame.

I wanted to reveal who I would vote for this year (if I had a vote) and provide a brief explanation explaining each of my picks.

To preface, I believe that the Hall of Fame is meant to serve as a museum to tell the story of baseball, and is not an endorsement of a player’s character traits.

There are scoundrels, racists, cheaters, and overall despicable people who have earned induction, but their story is necessary to adequately illustrate the history of baseball.

With that context, I believe that statistical impact and influence should be the primary factor in enshrining a player in this museum.

Here are the ten players who I would include on my ballot for the Hall of Fame Class of 2021, each one placed in alphabetical order.

Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately, if you don’t agree with me on some of these) I don’t have an actual Hall of Fame vote.

Nevertheless, these are the people who I would vote to send to Cooperstown if I had the power at my fingertips to do so.

We may disagree on some of these, but the beauty of baseball is that it evokes such great discussions on topics such as these.

Bobby Abreu

Setting aside the guys linked to steroids, this is the pick I expect to get the most pushback on. Abreu fails the subjective “Does one immediately consider him a legend of the game?” test. There’s a lot of reasons why a player goes through their career under-appreciated, from playing on many different teams to the lack of big market exposure to not having any instantly recognizes iconic moments. For whatever reason, people don’t appreciate just how tremendous of a player Abreu was, and perhaps his biggest detriments are things like never finishing in the Top 10 in MVP voting and making only two All-Star teams in 18 years.

However, the actual stats reveal a player who deserves enshrinement. Abreu came 12 home runs away from joining the elusive 300 homers/400 stolen bases club. Abreu hit over .300 in a season six separate times. For context, Craig Biggio accomplished that feat four times. Abreu also has a higher career OBP than Rod Carew, a higher career SLG than Dave Winfield, and a higher career OPS than Roy Campanella. Abreu belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Barry Bonds

He’s statistically the greatest player of the last half-century. Even if you were to take away everything post-steroid allegations (from the 1999 season onwards) he would be a first-ballot Hall of Fame player if he had retired after the 1998 season. You can’t tell the history of baseball (warts and all) without including the Home Run King and the player with the most MVP Awards. Every extra year he gets excluded from this museum makes it that much sillier as an institution. His induction is far past due. There are already people linked to cheating that are in the Hall of Fame. The Bonds exclusion seems increasingly petty at this point.

Roger Clemens

Pretty much in the same predicament Bonds is in with voters. He’d have been a first-ballot Hall of Fame inductee had he retired immediately before the steroid allegations began (for Clemens it’s after the 1996 season). Clemens has the most Cy Young Awards in the history of the game. The baseball Hall of Fame has not yet managed to induct their home run leader, Cy Young leader, and hits leader (Pete Rose needs to be in the Hall of Fame yesterday).

Even if a voter has a problem believing inflated stats, Clemens was Hall of Fame-bound before being linked to steroids. Like Bonds, it’s not a matter of not knowing if he was Hall of Fame-worthy without steroids, it’s punishing him for choosing to cheat. Again, there are already cheaters in the Hall of Fame who bent the rules with tools available to them in the era they played.

Todd Helton

The knock against Helton is that he’s perceived as a Coors Field creation. While his home splits are extraordinary compared to his road splits, the narrative of him only being a Hall of Fame guy because of where he spent his career just isn’t true. If you looked just at his road splits throughout his career, he’d still have a higher career OBP than Tim Raines, a higher career SLG than Ron Santo, and a higher career OPS than Jim Rice. Take away Coors Field, and his stats are still worth of Hall of Fame induction. Add the stats that are inflated through no fault of his own, and it’s a no-brainer. Helton belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Andruw Jones

It legitimately confuses me why Jones hasn’t had more support up to this point. He spent a decade as arguably the best defensive center fielder in all of baseball with elite power at the plate to compliment those defensive skills. He won the Gold Glove for ten consecutive seasons. During that same ten-year span of defensive excellence, he hit a combined 345 home runs. Am I missing something? He received just 19.4% last year in the Hall of Fame voting. The career BA and OBP is relatively low for a Hall of Fame player, but the power more than makes up for it in assessed offensive potency. He has a higher career SLG than Andre Dawson. He needs to be among the next former Dodgers to be enshrined.

Manny Ramirez

Here’s another former Dodgers great that deserves induction. The lack of support from voters relative to guys like Bonds and Clemens linked to steroids must stem from the uncertainty about how much of Ramirez was a steroid creation. Ramirez had so many direct ties to failed drug tests that it’s difficult to assess if he’d have been Hall of Fame-worthy without chemicals. Like I said above, though, this is a museum dedicated to telling the story of baseball. It’s impossible to tell that story without including the exploits of a guy like Ramirez. He’s statistically one of the greatest hitters of all time.

Scott Rolen

Admittedly, I’ve come around on Rolen, and I’m embarrassed to admit that maybe I fell victim to the same type of biases that I addressed in advocating for Abreu. It never seemed like Rolen was truly legendary during his impressive career, but he has the credentials that merit induction. He won eight Gold Glove Awards at third base. That’s a feat only surpassed by Brooks Robinson and Mike Schmidt (and equaled by Nolan Arenado). He has a higher career OBP than Biggio, a higher career SLG than Yogi Berra, and a higher career OPS than Orlando Cepeda. That blend of offensive production and defensive excellence deserves Hall of Fame induction.

Curt Schilling

There’s some chatter that Schilling is purposefully being kept out of the Hall of Fame because of comments he’s made in recent years. I sincerely hope that’s not true. The Hall of Fame is purely a museum for baseball accomplishments that illustrates the lore of the game. Schilling has said repugnant things, but there are plenty of people in the Hall of Fame who have said and done terrible things. It’s irrelevant for this discussion. I also think that he’s not falling victim to any type of voter obstruction for reasons outside of baseball. He just doesn’t have the raw stats of a slam-dunk Hall of Fame case. However, I believe that he’s worthy. Along with being a postseason legend, he has more career wins than Roy Halladay, a lower career regular-season ERA than Tom Glavine, and a lower career WHIP than Greg Maddux.

Gary Sheffield

Here’s another former Dodgers star that deserves induction. Sheffield is probably in the same sphere as Ramirez in terms of voter perception. It’s just unclear how great of a player he had been without the influence of steroids. Bonds and Clemens can point to their stats before any allegations started. They’d have been able to waltz into the Hall of Fame without steroid help. That’s more of a difficult question to answer for Sheffield. He’s also probably impacted at a voter subconscious level by not having a prolonged run with any one team. I think about guys like Fred McGriff in that respect.

Sheffield played 22 seasons in the Majors for eight different franchises. The longest he spent with any team was the Florida Marlins for six of those seasons. He became the first player to ever have a 25 home run season with six separate teams. His lack of a long-term home shouldn’t distract from the pure stats, but it probably does for some. Sheffield was a nine-time All-Star, won five Silver Sluggers, and hit 509 career home runs. I’m sold.

Sammy Sosa

Add Sosa to that same category as Ramirez and Sheffield in that it’s just difficult to gauge how much of his production and basic Hall of Fame case was aided by steroids. It’s a futile mission to arbitrarily go through player careers and take out certain stats for some guys and not others, though. The entire era was so filled with steroids that it’s impossible to know how many of the pictures guys like Sosa were hitting against who also were on the juice. The Hall of Fame should adequately reflect the contributions of notable figures, and it’s impossible to tell the history of baseball without Sosa. He played a remarkable role in helping the sport recover after the 1994 Strike. Along with Mark McGwire, he was instrumental in rebuilding the game and getting fans interested in baseball again during that home run chase of 1998. Sosa finished his career with 609 home runs. He needs to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

17 thoughts on “Larry King Passing, Enrique Hernandez Leaving, and the Upcoming Hall of Fame Announcement

  1. Nice write up Ian. And I take exception with all of your choices. There are some bad eggs in the hall, notably Ty Cobb and Cap Anson who were both products of their times, and extremely racist. As was Kenesaw Mountain Landis, who is also in the hall. As for players tied to steroids use and cheating, the only player i know who was linked, but never shown to have failed a test is Piazza. Just as gambling and betting on your own team is against the rules, using steroids was and is a choice. You make the choice, pay the price. Bonds was good enough without them, and decided he wanted the attention McGwire and Sosa were getting. It got him a fat head, unreal stats for a player his age, and the worse kind of notoriety. And considering the man he passed to become the all time HR leader just passed away and did what he did without ever having to use any foreign substance,i think his exclusion from the hall is not only just, it is necessary. Anyone who juiced to get an advantage, does not belong. And that includes Pete Rose who admitted he bet on his own team, but never has appologized for his behavior. Yeah, I am tough about this. If he had appologized, maybe I would feel different, but he remains the same arrogant ass he always has been. Manny would have been a lock, but his last couple of seasons he just got stupid. Cost him the hall, and the Dodgers a lot of cash. Abreu is merely a very good player. Hall worthy? Doubtful. Never won any major awards, Coming close is not doing. McGriff, who I think is much more deserving than Abreu, His playoff stats do not stand out at all. McGriff finished with the same number of career HR’s as Lou Gehrig, and never got more than 39 percent of the vote. Another would be Dale Murphy, 2 time MVP who finished with 399 dingers and never garnered more than 23 percent. Both of those guys deserve enshrinement more than Abreu. Sheffield is probably not in already because of his personality and his relationship with the press. Helton is another fringe guy who will probably get in somewhere down the road. I think Shilling gets over the hump this year. But you are right, he has created a lot of his own problems from his posts. I think the credibility of the hall has been diminished for years anyway. Some players who are in do not have HOF type stats. AKA Bill Mazeroski. Good glove and had one shining moment in a World Series, but nothing special with a bat. And the fact that Gil Hodges is not in is a travesty. If you are the best at your position in your era, and a leader on your team, you should be in. Gil has stats that are very close to what Tony Perez did over a longer career than Gil. Rolen is another borderline candidate. I get why you like these guys, They were all good players. But personally, I do not think cheaters, or very good, but not great players belong. One reason I have never felt Garvey belongs in the hall either.

  2. Good writeup Ian and good counterpoints Bear. I enjoyed reading your post Ian and your comments Bear. Both of you were so persuasive that I’m still stuck in the middle.

  3. Pretty much agree with you bear. The biggest joke on this list is Sosa. Pretty much a below average player before his amazing steroid years. Career 250 hitter, didnt walk much and I don’t think he ever led the league in anything. Middling power for most of his career,.

  4. Actually Gordon, he led the league in some category’s multiple times, led the league in total bases 3 times, twice topping 400, led the league in K’s 3 years in a row, RBI’s twice, once with 160, and also with 158, led league in HR’s twice, but not in any of the 3 years where he hit 60 or more. Led the league in runs scored 3 times in a stretch where he scored more than 100 runs 5 years in a row, Other than those 5 years he never did it again, and led the league in games played 3 times. He won 1 MVP the year he hit 66 HR;s and finished 2nd in the voting once. Never has gotten more than 13.9 percent of the hall of fame vote. His career BA was .273. He did finish with just over 2400 hits. He struck out 2.4 times for every walk he had, over 2300 K’s and 929 walks. Probably led in corked bats too, but that is not an official stat. I think what stands out in the list than Ian presents is that other than Rolen, Abreu, Jones, Helton and Manny, who is just a total clown in some ways, the rest are arrogant and have never admitted any culpability in their actions. Jones has only been on the list for 3 years, and he jumped almost 12 percentage points last time the vote was counted. He has seven more shots at making it. But his career BA might keep him out. From his last year in Atlanta to his retirement he never hit above .247 and those six years severely reduced his career average which had been over .260 while he was a Brave. Helton has a much better chance, and is only in his 3rd year on the ballot. He got almost 30% of the vote last time. Both he and Jones have a higher career WAR than Sosa. Rolen has a higher WAR than Helton and Jones, but he also is in only his 4th year on the ballot, and got over 30 % last time, so he also still has time to get in. Abreu to me has no shot. 60.2 career WAR is good, better than Sosa’s, but he just was never one of those guys who scared you when he came to the plate. He was efficient, and did a good job. Just 5 % of the vote his first time on the ballot. He is still on the ballot, but I do not think he has much chance. Best shot this time is Schilling. He needs to get exactly 5% more votes to get in. Bonds and Clemens have a much higher mountain to climb. None of the 11 new candidates will garner much support.

    1. What i meant was he was mediocre throughout his career and never lead the league in anything UNTIL his steroids kicked in then he had 5/6 out of this world seasons. Actually he then returned to mediocrity for a few years. 30 homer guy before and after. Bonds was a hof before steroids. Sosa was a player we wouldn’t know before steroids. U R right about the beverage. My mistake.

      1. No problem because you are absolutely right. He was mediocre the first 6 years of his career. Then he had a 5 year stretch where he was one of the best.

  5. There is one other guy who I think will garner more support this year and that is Billy Wagner, the former reliever. He was over 30% his last time out and is in his 6th time on the ballot.

  6. Ian Smith: “To preface, I believe that the Hall of Fame is meant to serve as a museum to tell the story of baseball, and is not an endorsement of a player’s character traits.

    There are scoundrels, racists, cheaters, and overall despicable people who have earned induction, but their story is necessary to adequately illustrate the history of baseball.

    With that context, I believe that statistical impact and influence should be the primary factor in enshrining a player in this museum.”

    I agree with the above statement by Ian, but I might have gone even further by saying, “statistical impact and influence should be the ONLY factor”. I don’t care if someone is a “scoundrel, racist, cheater and overall despicable person, IN SOME PEOPLES EYES, if their baseball stats or baseball influence set them apart as ELITE, they belong in the Hall.

    Based on that criteria, I would not have elected some of the 333 current members of the HOF. Ian’s list has some very good players, but the only ELITE players I see on his list is Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds. Additionally, while Ian didn’t list him, he did mention him, Pete Rose belongs in the Hall.

    Clemens and Bonds obviously have the stats proving that they were elite. The problem is they “cheated”, I say, if they were cheating MLB should have suspended them at the time of their cheating then they wouldn’t have the stats they have. Instead MLB chose money over integrity when they were playing. Oh sure, You could put a disclaimer on their plaques saying there were allegations of cheating, but they need to be in there, just like Gaylord Perry. Does Gaylord’s plaque mention the spitball?

    Pete Rose is a clearer case of belonging in the Hall to me, all time hit leader. It was never shown that he bet AGAINST his teams, only for. And while I agree with Bear, he was an “arrogant ass”, his crime was putting his money where his mouth was. While I can see the wisdom of not allowing betting by players/managers, I’m sure it happens a lot. All a player has to do is tell a friend, “we’re going to kick their ass, take the odds and make a bet for us to win, we’ll true up later”. Now maybe living in Nevada for the last forty years has jaded my view on gaming, but who hasn’t played competitive sports and said, “losers buy drinks”? Additionally, I’ve seen that gaming/gambling can be just as debilitating as drugs or alcohol to some people. Rose rubs a lot of people the wrong way, but 4,256 hits puts him in the Hall.

  7. I get your points, but we will always disagree on Rose. It is because of his arrogance and lack of remorse that he has never been reinstated. If he had admitted he bet on games and apologized, I think things would have been a lot different. He accepted the punishment, and that to me changes everything. Betting beers in competitive sports is a lot different than the exchange of money with a bookie. Yes, gambling can be a problem. Some people get addicted. But what he did was on him. He made the choice. Whether he bet on the Reds to win or lose makes no difference because he was in a position to affect the score of the game. All he needed to do was pull a pitcher at a certain time, and he could affect the final score. I saw Rose play a lot. I always admired his hustle and desire to win. But I stand by my conviction that he does not belong in the hall.

  8. I want to put my two cents in on Rose. He was one of the great players of his generation. If not for the ban, we all agree he would be in the HOF. Every year at this time the Rose/HOF debate starts all over again. One thing fans forget to mention, or debate on is, if you guys can remember, when the investigation was over, The Commissioner met with Pete, and he was shown all the evidence against him. At that meeting Rose accepted the suspension without fighting it, and it was agreed the report would never be made public.

    Now don’t you guys think there was something in that report much more damning than betting on his own team, if Pete was willing to take a life time ban, and never ask for reinstatement, rather than have the report made public? Remember he Accepted the ban, he did not challenge Giamatti’s decision.

    As a kid watching Pete Rose play, I thought he was a great player, even as a Dodger fan when the reds of the seventies were our biggest rivals.

    I have no way of knowing anything in the Pete Rose report, but my gut instinct tells me Pete probably bet against his own team. The reason I say this is, what else would he be willing to accept a lifetime ban, and keep his mouth shut for?
    Another thing is Pete is not sworn to silence, he can come out, and tell all of us fans exactly what’s in the report. He knows what he did, but he has never admitted to doing anything.

    For those reasons, Pete Rose should never be allowed in the HOF, if he wants to come out, and admit what happened tell everyone the truth, maybe the HOF, and the voters would reconsider his eligibility. My guess is he will never admit to why he was willing to accept a lifetime ban from the game he was so great at, and loved so much.

    1. My sentiments exactly. And I will go a step further, the only known juicer who came out and apologized publicly for using was Jason Giambi. Had he garnered enough votes to make it in, I would have been ok with that. If Clemens and Bonds were to do the same, thing, maybe my stance would soften, Admit you did wrong, admit you tried to take advantage, and you score points with the public. Schilling is just a very opinionated guy. And he has lost some support because of that. But he was a big game pitcher. And his post seasons prove that. Would have had at least one Cy Young had he not been Randy Johnson’s teammate. It is the arrogance and refusal to admit that has kept Pete from garnering more public support. Most of his support on that front comes from Reds fans. It is like the Dodger fans who keep insisting that Garvey and Fernando are Hall of Fame worthy. Their lifetime stats tell a different story. If Fernando ever makes it, it will most likely be because the Veteran’s committee will liken his social impact on the game to something like Jackie. He did bring huge numbers of Latino fans to the game. He was their hero. As for Rose, I totally respected his talent and hustle on the field. I remember a game in Dodger Stadium where a fan chucked something at him and almost hit him. His reply was that the Dodgers should sign that guy because he had a better arm than anyone on the team. Yep, he was arrogant. One last HOF note, I think all players are responsible for their own actions. Things they do on and off the field that affect their careers and lives. Only one player not in the hall deserves a little better in my mind. Simply because he was illiterate, and was coerced by teammates who did not have his best interest’s in mind, only their own financial gain. He took the word of a player he trusted and got a lifetime ban. Shoeless Joe Jackson was one of the greatest hitters baseball has ever seen. And if he conspired to throw the series, his play in the series shows no evidence he did. He never recieved a dime. And it was purely guilt by association. That is my take anyway. He is long dead, and cannot benefit in any way from election, but he belongs, even if there is a place on the plaque that explains what happened. If you can elect a couple of racists, you can elect a man who was convicted because he did not have the education to understand what he was being asked to do.

      1. I agree Shoeless Joe, I should be in the Hall. But not for the reasons you state, but for the same reasons Rose should be.

        As far as not having an education, it was different times. My grandfather, who was born a little earlier than Joe only had a third grade education, he had to go to work on his father’s farm, but he knew right from wrong. I’m sure we agree life’s lessons are much more valuable than school lessons.

        According to Wikipedia (and everyone knows they always get it right, not) “In sworn grand jury testimony, Jackson admitted to having accepted $5,000 cash from the gamblers. It was also Jackson’s sworn testimony that he never met or spoke to any of the gamblers and was only told about the fix through conversations with other White Sox players. The other players that were in on the fix informed him that he would be getting $20,000 cash divided up in equal payments after each loss. Jackson’s testimony was that he played to win in the entire Series and did nothing on the field to throw any of the games in any way.

        Jackson had a Series-leading .375 batting average—including the Series’ only home run—threw out five baserunners, and handled 30 chances in the outfield with no errors. In general, players perform worse in games their team loses, and Jackson batted worse in the five games that the White Sox lost, with a batting average of .286 in those games. This was still an above-average batting average (the National and American Leagues hit a combined .263 in the 1919 season). Three of his six RBIs came in the losses, including the aforementioned home run, and a double in Game 8 when the Reds had a large lead and the series was all but over. Still, in that game a long foul ball was caught at the fence with runners on second and third, depriving Jackson of a chance to drive in the runners.”

        We’ll never know the complete/true story of what happened in the 1919 World Series, just like we will probably never know Rose’s complete story. I’ve never visited the HOF, but if I do, I’d be more interested in Shoeless Joe, who had the third highest BA, behind Cobb and Hornsby and Rose, who is the all-time hit leader than a lot of the guys enshrined there. Certainly, their stories should include their alleged gambling activities, but they should be there.

      2. That’s cool, but Rose accepted the punishment. It is a lifetime ban. They put him in after he is gone, ok by me. I do not think he should profit from his enshrinement. And he would do so greatly if he went in while alive. It is in the commissioners hands, no one else can lift his ban, and I doubt any will.

  9. Excellent story right here:

    “At a March 17, 2005 congressional hearing, Palmeiro points finger at a congressman and says, “I have never used steroids, period. I do not know how to say it any more clearly than that.”

    “Roger Clemens has denied using steroids or growth hormones — including before Congress in 2008 — more times than Pat Sajak has spun the Wheel of Fortune.”

    Oh my.

  10. Bear, I agree with almost everything on your last two posts, schilling- yes, all of the ped users, no Rose no, Fernando, and Garvey, almost, but not quite. One thing though bear, when the veterans committee let Jack Morris, and Harold Baines in, I think they lowered the bar for the HOF. If those two are in the Hall then I think you could make a case for Garvey at least, if not Fernando. Garvey was always a better player than Baines, and Fernando was one of the top pitchers in the league almost every season, until his injury, Morris was hardly ever one of he top pitchers in the league in any season.

    Bear you’re pretty good comparing stats, look at Garvey vs Baines, and Fernando vs Morris, then tell me what you think. Im real interested in your thoughts on these two.

    1. Nope, neither make it. Garvey, not enough career homers for his position. Baine’s was a DH period, the first one in the hall. Morris won 254 games, Fernando was not even close. Morris got in because of his post season heroics. Morris played for 3 Championship teams. Baine’s career BA is only .005 lower than Garvey’s. He has over 100 more homers at 384. He has 300 more RBI’s than Garv had. And his WAR is .6 higher than Garvey. So Garvey was not a better player at least hitting wise. Baine’s was a lousy fielder, but in the AL he could make a decent living with his bat. One of the better DH’s in MLB history. I think guys like Mazeroski who took it down more.

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