So the next Major League Baseball Hall of Fame class will be announced today at 6 p.m.
That's cool, and if you think I'm conservative politically, I'm supremely conservative when it comes to Hall passes.
Simply put, it's the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of Great, or, in the cases of Harold Baines and Ted Simmons and some others in recent years, the Hall of Very Good.
In truth, in no place has the standard slipped as far as it has for MLB, and that's because voting is a human endeavor and feelings and emotions will always play a part.
As will the impossible standards of old-guard voters who wrongly put the "Well, if Babe was not unanimous, then no one should be unanimous" in front of every candidate.
Heck, I'd be for raising the cut-off from 75% to 80%, or higher.
But we are where we are, and believe it or not, Rob Manfred has not called wanting my input lately.
The ballots are filled with a slew of very good and great players on it. Andruw Jones is one who I have campaigned for a while now. Close to 500 homers. Ten consecutive Gold Gloves at one of the games three most important defensive positions. That's résumé worthy.
But it also is the lowest common denominator compared to the above old-guard about unanimous votes -- how silly were the old dudes, Hank Aaron nor Ted Williams got as high a percentage as George Brett for Pete's sake -- in that Andruw Jones only belongs in this Hall because of the way the doors have been opened to questionable candidates of recent generations.
Which brings us to this year's election, and no this has nothing to do with the PED crew.
(Side note: If Bonds and Clemens are not going to get enough votes to get in because of the taint of steroids when neither was ever suspended by the MLB, then A-Rod and Manny Ramirez -- dudes with true Hall of Fame credentials in terms of stats and accomplishments but also who received lengthy suspensions for PED use -- should be afterthoughts.)
Of course there is no one close to those standards on the ballot this year, which is exemplified the most by Scott Rolen ranking as the leading candidate to get the 75% needed to get to Cooperstown.
Scott Rolen? Seriously, that's where this is. And hey, we can craft all types of WAR conversations and analytics that slide the scale about Rolen's better-than-realized career compared to his contemporaries, but that's a reach. Heck, if we're going to go by comps to the guys at similar spots in similar eras, then Jeff Kent -- a former MVP as a second baseman with more homers than anyone who has ever played that position -- should get more love.
In truth, not at a single time during either Rolen's or Kent's careers -- both of which happened during a peak time of MLB fandom -- did I ever think, "Wow that dude's headed to Cooperstown some day."
I don't know if voting should be that simple in terms of recognizing Hall of Famers.
But I do know admittance to the Hall should not be as easy as it has become over the last decade.
So, we are going to give the prediction platform to Vader, our little area of the internet's official film critic.
That said, the announcements this morning left me with some thoughts. Shocking, right?
First, and I said this from the very start, even if the movie was released in late 2021, "Top Gun: Maverick" deserves to walk out of there with at least a couple of Oscars including best picture.
Was it the best picture over the time frame? I don't know, I've only seen a few of those, and most are blockbusters that do not fare very well in the eyes of the folks who gave that fish movie a statue.
But "Maverick" delivered the goods with an emphatic exclamation point that reminded all of us how much fun a trip to the movie theater truly is when the movie is truly special. What an experience.
(Side note: And it's not like we're talking about "Caddyshack 2" or one of the "Weekend at Bernie's" cash grabs of a 1980s remake/sequel. "Maverick" was aces. Period.)
And not just the movie experience as well as allowing Hollywood to slow the straight to streaming pipeline, Maverick's presence in this awards season will help cleanse the award shows, which have been embroiled in racial contention as well as Will Smith taking his Ali role a bit too seriously.
It's kind of surreal that Tom Cruise -- easily the biggest movie star of my lifetime -- has become the star that saved movies. To say he's quirky is such an understatement "quirky" folks likely are perturbed, but in a time when Marvel was flat lining (by comparison), controversy was dominating the conversation and the in-theater experience became one of the COVID-19 casualties that looked like something we could do without, Maverick saved Hollywood.
Talk to me, Goose.
Our summer voice
So, there are a few jobs out there that everyone thinks they can do and the ones who do them well make it look even more likely that everyone can do them.
The public perception of being a sports editor at times falls into that category. "You love Baylor; you hate Baylor." "Alabama should be on the front page; Chattanooga is still in TENNNNN-essee right?"
Being a baseball coach does too, especially when it's done very well. "Just fill out a lineup with the DH and roll with it."
Being the voice of your Atlanta Braves also falls firmly into the category. Now, the soundtrack of our summer is looking for a new lead vocalist.
Chip Carey is leaving the Braves broadcast team to carry the mic for the St. Louis Cardinals. Carey grew up in St. Louis. His world-famous grandfather was the voice of the Cards before becoming a legend with the Cubs.
I get the move.
But it's one that will require a new voice to get used to the wide-reaching passion of Braves Country -- especially the elderly folks who spend their summers glued to the games -- and with the patience to stand tall as we get used to them.
An early which-way Wednesday, who would be your dream name to replace Carey? (And yes, it needs to be someone alive, so either of the other Careys or Vin Scully will not be accepted.)
This and that
-- We took an 0-2 -- a big 0-2 considering what the Kings did to the Grizzlies last night -- on Monday's Plays. It happens. That said, we advised in Monday's afternoon email to get the Bengals now because that line was going nowhere but up on Cincinnati. What was a Bengals plus-1.5 (or even 2 depending on when you looked) spread for Sunday's date at K.C. is now Cincy minus-2 at DraftKings. And that number will continue to go up when the actual details of Patrick Mahomes' ankle are revealed. Anyone here ever have a high ankle sprain? That's an injury that takes weeks not days to get better.
-- Alabama fans are doing cartwheels now that Bill O'Brien is headed to the Foxboro to be the OC for the Patriots. In truth, considering how bad the Pats offensive was, Billy O has to be an improvement. So the question now becomes, who will Nick Saban call and which troubled career will he cleanse? Kliff Kingsbury to the crimson courtesy phone. Kliff Kingsbury to the courtesy phone please.
-- Georgia transfer receiver Ra-Ra Thomas -- who was a dude at Mississippi State and likely was going to be counted on as a contributor next fall -- was arrested in Athens on Monday on felony and misdemeanor charges.
-- Speaking of the Hall, here's Not Mr. Tibbs Hall of Fame tracker that counts the votes of writers who have shared their ballots. Only Rolen has better than a 3% chance in the simulations to make it tonight, and that's only a 12% chance.
-- So the season is still in progress and Tom Brady is already a little testy about the "R" question. Here's his response to Jim Gray to the question that had to be asked and to which Brady fired multiple F-bombs. And of course his long-standing -- and sponsored -- Monday sit-down with Gray had more than a little choreographing to it. How do I know? Well, a) the retirement query came more than 12 minutes into the interview. A professional question-asker like Gray would have made retirement no worse than the second topic on the table, and that would only be behind, "What happened to a Bucs team with Super Bowl hopes but finished 8-10?" And b) Brady's been in what, 2.4 million interview sessions, and how many F-bombs has he dropped but he slings two in two sentences about the topic we all knew had to be broached. That's the "Fine, here's my answer, but none of you other bleepers need to be asking about this."
-- I am 100% on board with the term "tipping fatigue," and I am one of the most generous and best tipping folks I know. And I 100% have tipping fatigue too. Case in point, the Mrs. and I went to dinner Saturday night. We sat down, we ordered, we were waited on. I tipped almost 30% because the food was good, the server was very good and our need for expediency was met. But every take-out order does not warrant tips in my mind. Heck, I've seen tip jars at convenience stations and the advent of the "add whatever percent" boxes on every credit charge swipe is everywhere.
-- M&M has canned its candy spokespeople after the recent "controversy." If you were unaware, well, a) good for you for having better things to spend your time on and b) the skinny is some far right folks grasping for lightning rods and strawmen -- sorry, straw people -- had issue with M&M having only female spokescandies on certain packages. So, M&M walked away from the far-from-sweet dust-up and fired all its candy spokesfolks and hired Maya Rudolph. This is either one of the dumbest deals in recent P.R. memory or a crafted exploitation of today's hinged and quick-trigger society. The first is sad. The second is kind of savvy. And also sad.
True or false, it's Tuesday. Morning, Ernie.
True or false, this is the year Andruw Jones makes the Hall of Fame.
True or false, you have tipping fatigue.
True or false, Tom Cruise should have received a best actor nomination this morning.
True or false, a MLB Hall of Fame that includes Scott Rolen but not Bonds or Clemens (or Rose) is a farce.
You know the rules, answer some T or Fs, leave some T or Fs.
As for today, Jan. 24, let's review.
Neil Diamond is 82 today. Churchill died on this day in 1965. John Belushi would have been 74 today.
Mary Lou Retton is 55 today.
Who is on the gymnastics Rushmore, you know, if they had one? Go.