Dawson’s Week

Andre Dawson will finally be enshrined into the Baseball Hall of Fame.  On Sunday afternoon, he will take his rightful place among the legends of the game.  The lawn in Cooperstown, I’m sure, will be absolutely packed with Cubs (and possibly some Expos) fans for as far as the eye can see (or at least until the lawn runs out).  I’ve never been to an induction ceremony and this was to be my first.  If I had the opportunity, I would’ve attended Sandberg’s.  With the announcement of Dawson going in back in January, I immediately looked around to make hotel reservations.

As you could imagine, hotel accomodations were extremely hard to come by.  Many hotels were sold out when I called and I started calling only minutes after the announcement was made.  I had my numbers ready to go and as soon as my blackberry sent through the note that Dawson was in, I kindly stepped out of the meeting I was in and started the hunt for my Cooperstown home for this upcoming weekend.  Apparently, while I wanted to be sure of Dawson getting in, many fans made their reservations ahead of time ‘just in case’.

Motels nearby: sold out.  Hotels: sold out.  Quaint country side inns and Mom and Pop bed and breakfasts: sold out.  One place was completely taken over by the media and Cooperstown employees which would make sense I suppose, at least for the media as they too would have to sleep somewhere, right?  Well after widdling my way through sold out venues and those that require a 3 night stay (the induction is only on Sunday and the museum probably only really needs one day so 3 would be a little excessive….and expensive, like $1200) I finally found a place about a half hour/forty minutes away in beautiful, sunny, tropical Utica, NY.  Ok, not ideally sitting on Main Street, Cooperstown with a view of the parade from my room window, but still, close enough to be a part of all the action and share in Dawson’s big day.

Then about a week or two later, my wife and I found out she was pregnant (perhaps the only new year’s resolution I’ve ever actually kept and accomplished so quickly by the way. TMI?) and we’d be having a baby come October and she’d be right in the thick of pregnancy in the hot, hot Summer days of July.  A total trooper and excited about coming home with a new baseball cap, my wife was still game and hot or not, she was ready to go check out Cooperstown for the first time in her life and share in Dawson’s big day.

I wanted to head up there with her and take in all the sights and sounds the town and the museum has to offer.  Show her some of the cooler baseball memorabilia they have on display.  Interview a ton of Cubs fans and get their take on the event and what it means to them.  Interview haters and find out perhaps why they don’t think Dawson belongs in the hall.  Make some silly videos and archive our experience in Cooperstown that weekend to share with you all.  And most importantly, just be around it and share in a historic afternoon that will bring Dawson’s baseball achievements to a close with perhaps his greatest honor yet (the highest you can obtain as a player so yes, his highest honor). 

Unfortunately, although I’ve mentioned it here in a few times and in the vlog I shot on the day of Dawson’s Hall announcement, I will not be able to make it to Cooperstown this weekend.  I do plan on finding some way of covering this event whether it is through an interview of some sort or what, I haven’t decided.  However, due to important family matters I will not be able to attend.  My father-in-law had a stroke about two weeks ago and it was very, very scary.  Driving my wife up to see him in the hospital, not knowing what was happening or what could happen was one of the most intense car rides I’ve ever experienced.  I know what her parents mean to her so I just tried to get her there as quickly as I could.  A good 5 hour drive from NYC to NH and we did it in about 4 hrs and 20 mins (don’t tell the police though). : ) 

He is doing well and is able to talk although he has a lot of recovering to do and rehabbing coming up.  A clot in his brain and some brain hemorraging was occuring and if his wife hadn’t had him to the hospital as quickly as she did, this weekend could be much different.  I just wanted to let you all know that I won’t be able to go up to Cooperstown and share photos/videos with you of the big Andre Dawson gets into the Hall weekend as I said I would.  As disappointing as that is, all things considered, I am happy to say that we will be spending the time with her father and mother at the rehab center in New Hampshire. 

As I have my own son on his way, I’m starting to further understand how important family is.  Back in January I couldn’t name you one place I’d rather be this coming weekend.  However with recent events, there’s no way I’d be anywhere else than where I’m going to be.

If anyone has any photos, videos, etc after this weekend they’d like to share, or if you are attending and would be up for me interviewing you afterwards, please don’t hestitate to email me at proseandivy@cubsmvp.com.  Thrilled for The Hawk and I look forward to hearing his speech and seeing all of the coverage on MLBN.  It’ll be cool too to hear Sandberg’s speech or from anyone that is there to speak on behalf of Dawson as they knew him in his playing years and beyond. 

This coming Sunday, Andre Dawson and I will having something in common.  We will both be exactly where we should be and all things considered, for both of us it could be A LOT worse.  (A more uplifting post about two Lou’s and the greatsest movie managers of all time is to follow this evening.  Go Cubs Go!)

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July 25th -Cooperstown, NY- The Andre Dawson Expo

When Hall of Fame induction weekend in July rolls around and I find myself standing in the middle of thousands of Cubs fans (and perhaps a few Nationals fans sprinkled throughout) in Cooperstown, NY to listen to Andre Dawson give his Hall of Fame induction speech, he MIGHT be wearing a Cubs cap. This has yet to be decided.

The cap on his Hall of Fame plaque however, this has been decided.  Andre Dawson will enter the Hall of Fame, forever enshrined as a Montreal Expo.  
I’m disappointed if only for Andre.  Otherwise, I’m still thrilled for the guy.
He didn’t want to say the wrong thing or look like a bad guy, or offend an entire group of fans that may still hold their time rooting for the Expos dear to their hearts.  That’s why he never came flat out and requested to go in as a Chicago Cub.  However, he didn’t have any problem hinting that he’d prefer to go in as a Cub and once the announcement was official, went as far as basically saying that he’s disappointed his place in the Baseball Hall of Fame will not be a home for which he may hang a Cubs cap.  It will forever be etched in bronze that he was a Montreal Expo first and foremost…and then, oh yeah, he also played for the Cubs, Red Sox and Marlins.
I of course would love for Andre to go in as a Cub.  Why wouldn’t I?  However, I’m not that upset about it.  It is what it is.  He’s a hall of famer, he made it and I’m happy for The Hawk.  However, what it is…is…a flawed system.  The hall decides which cap a hall of famer will have applied to their plaque as we know.  The player’s feeling is taken into account however they believe if those that run the hall crunch the numbers and decide which city will represent the time where the player was his most valuable and dominant, then historically speaking the dignity of the hall and the honor will be preserved.  Seeing that it’s an opinion, there will always be those who disagree.  Even in this case, Dawson himself isn’t thrilled.  Apparently this system got real fire under itself when Wade Boggs wanted to go in as a Tampa Bay Devil Ray. 
My question…so what?  Why not let him?
Think about what the player has to do to earn this honor.  The day in day out hustle and grind of the major leagues for many of them stretches nearly two decades.  To keep your performance at a hall of fame level takes an amazing amount of desire, dedication, hard work, commitment, consistency and character.  With all that this person must dedicate to earning a place among the greats, haven’t they earned the right to say which cap is on their plaque?  And what do we have to lose by doing so?  Historically speaking nothing.   The numbers are all the same and all the teams are listed on the plaque regardless.  If anything, by letting the player decide, we would actually end up gaining something.  
Imagine if Wade Boggs had been allowed to go in as a Devil Ray.  Imagine, historically speaking, what that would say about Wade Boggs.  Imagine the conversations that would generate…the reasons why he would do that.  The feelings he must have had towards the Red Sox to choose a Tampa Bay cap.  By allowing the player to choose, we actually find out about them as people, beyond the numbers, which if you ask me…would actually be fascinating.  Completely hypothetically speaking of course, but you’ll understand where I’m going…which cap would Dennis Eckersley choose, or Yogi Berra, or Reggie Jackson, or Rickey Henderson, or any other member of the hall that played significant time with multiple teams?  It would be fascinating to hear their reasons for choosing the caps they chose and it would be a real tell-tale sign of what their careers meant to them along the way beyond the numbers.
Many things are taken into consideration when the BBWAA votes on the candidates each year.  Some of those factors have nothing to do with numbers.  We know how loudly the numbers speak and they are loud at that, numbers speak very well by themselves.  But imagine how much more we’d know about the greats of the game if they were allowed to step up to the plate and make one more move in solidifying their place in the game.
That would be something I think a lot of people would get behind.  Except perhaps the Baseball Hall of Fame, that is.  
It is what it is.  And Andre Dawson’s HOF plaque cap is that of the Montreal Expo.  Whether he wears a Cubs cap at any time during his induction speech is completely up to him.  And if you ask me…that is exactly the way it should be all-around when you reach that day, that milestone in your professional baseball career.
Go Cubs Go!
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I Typed All of the Words You See Here But That Didn’t Have Any Impact On Whether I Posted Or Not. Right, Mr. McGwire?

Mark McGwire has admitted to using steroids on the same day Greg Maddux returns to the Cubs as the assistant to GM Jim Hendry.

Once again, the Cardinals get the best of the Cubs.  They couldn’t even let us enjoy Maddux being back in the fold.  Next thing you know, McGwire this, McGwire that.  Yet the part I believe will be focused on most with regards to McGwire’s statement, is his opinion that taking steroids had no impact on his actual performance on the ball field.  
Wait.  What???
Performance.  Enhancing.  Drugs.  Steroids.  Things that enhance your performance…drugs that enhance your performance.  How ridiculous is this statement?  So, they simply allowed you to stay healthy, not blast home runs out of St. Louis and make them land in McCovey Cove?  Huh.  
How do you feel about toothpaste Mark?  You used it this morning but it had nothing to do with your fresh breath and plaque removal?  How about money?  You made and spent money but all it did was keep you wealthy and had nothing to do with how you got all the stuff you own?  
What’s your definition of ‘is’ Mark?  I don’t know about the BBWAA but I have a feeling Bill Clinton is extremely impressed.  And I’m not saying you’re still using steroids, but I thought snapping Bob Costas over your knee at the end of the interview was a bit odd.*
I know it must have been tough for McGwire to make a statement at all and I respect his willingness to finally do so.  However, to say that you took steroids, yet you don’t believe it impacted your stat line year in and year out…how do you say a pill, an injection can’t make you skilled at hitting a baseball?  Maybe not, but it sure does help turn on the ball fast and strong enough to send it into a major league stadium parking lot!  I don’t know about the rest of you, but to me my immediate reaction is a blank stare.  A stare that simply says “Did he just say that?”  It makes me cringe even further with regards to his cheating.  
And now Peter Gammons is on and as a man respected as one of the elite baseball reporters out there, how is he not laughing out loud at this?!?  Doesn’t a McGwire fan of even Gammons’ magnitude have to simply step back and say, “I’m a fan, but this guy is nuts”.  He did just mention that he’s delusional in a round about way by comparing him to Clemens (couldn’t agree more here).  Will it result in HOF votes for McGwire because he ‘came clean’? I hope not.  I don’t care what your opinion is Mark.  You admitted to using steroids.  You cheated.  Gammons says his admittance eliminates McGwire for him regarding the HOF which is nice to hear.  All of the panelists on MLB Network are in agreement.  And I’m right there with them.  Not only are you a cheat Mark, now to me, you’re a moron.  
Amazing how much good and harm one person can do to the game of baseball with one decision.  People loved watching the record chase in ’98 and some people say he and Sosa saved baseball (I don’t agree with this, baseball wasn’t going anywhere).  However now that they know they were duped while the players were doped, it’s hard to look back at that time fondly…especially not in the way people thought they’d be able to one day.
I’m glad you came forward Mark.  I’m glad you admitted it.  Everything else you had to say didn’t matter which is good because it didn’t make any sense, although you may actually believe your own BS.**  Enjoy your place with the St. Louis Cardinals.  Going forward, this is the only way you’ll ever wear a cap of any kind in the game of baseball again.  A’s or Cardinals cap on a HOF plaque is not something you’ll ever have to concern yourself with, I’m guessing.
And one day I believe we will be in the same position the Cardinals fans are in today when it’s Sosa’s turn.  That is if he ever has the guts to admit it.  He gave Cubs fans great thrills, including that race in ’98.  But an honest Cubs fan knows something wasn’t right with Sosa’s stats either.  Here’s to hoping when Sosa does come out, he doesn’t try to beat around the bush.  Admit you used and it enhanced your stats.  You may not be elected into the HOF, but I for one will respect you much more for being honest now as opposed to continuing your ways of dishonesty going forward.
Makes me appreciate true talents and truly good people in the game like Dawson who was elected into the Hall last week.  You think character doesn’t weigh in at all when BBWAA voters cast their votes?  Listen to what these guys are saying about McGwire today.  It absolutely does and it absolutely should.
*No Bob Costas was injured in the writing of this post.  
**Believing that taking steroids didn’t impact his performance what-so-ever and that all of those home runs were simply God given may be just what Big Mac needs to hold on to in order to get through this.  That said, Mark….this one goes out to you:

http://www.collegehumor.com/moogaloop/moogaloop.swf?clip_id=1927390&fullscreen=1

Anyway…good to have you back Mr. Maddux.  And as always, Go Cubs Go!
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Andre Dawson – Hall of Fame Class of 2010

“And at the end of seven, it’s Dawson 5, Phillies 3.”

As for today, at the end of nine years, it’s Dawson 1, Everyone else 0.

The quote listed above is from Harry Caray in calling Andre Dawson’s classic three run home run game against Philadelphia on August 1, 1987.  Hawk had five RBI on the three home runs and nearly single handedly defeated the Phillies.  At the top of the ninth the graphic on the screen actually read: Top of the 9th, Dawson 5, Phillies 3.  An unbelievable performance from what is now, an official hall of famer.

Like that day in 1987, today was all about Andre Dawson.  If Andre Dawson’s living room were complete with a right field bleacher section, I’m sure it would’ve been filled with shirtless, thrilled Cubs fans bowing to the great outfielder as he heard the news that he was the only person to receive enough votes today from the BBWAA to be elected into Cooperstown.

What that moment must have been like for Dawson after an amazing career and 14 years after he last played in an MLB game.  Nine years of will he or won’t he, with the most recent years having him come within even 44 votes of being elected.  Dawson recently mentioned that while many HOFers were telling him it was only a matter of time before the player they respected so much got the call, 44 votes was a large jump for where he was and perhaps this wouldn’t be the year.  After all, he was a Cub and they are used to looking forward to next year.

In 2010, there is no more waiting until next year for this Cub.  Andre Dawson is the sole player to be voted into the baseball Hall of Fame.

Sandberg mentioned Hawk in his induction speech.  It will be interesting to hear what Andre has to say in his. Immediately after I heard the news today I started calling around to hotels in the Cooperstown area.  I wanted to make sure that I had a room reserved so that I don’t miss the induction ceremony come July 25th.  You know Cubs fans.  We show up everywhere!  Forget sell outs at Wrigley game in and game out…Cubs fans show up on the road, at conventions and anywhere else we can to support the team.  I spoke to a women working for the BBHOF today and she mentioned that some years, they’ve had as many as 80,000 show up for the induction speeches.  Granted, I’m sure those were years when more than one player was voted in.  Still, Cubs fans are Cubs fans and I know that tiny town in upstate NY will be loaded with them come July.  I know I’ll be there and I can’t wait to capture and remember every moment of the weekend.

When I got home today I had to write again how amazing it is for Andre and say congratulations once more.  I immediately threw on his three home run game from the Cubs legends DVD collection and just got finished watching it. So cool to be able to relive that incredible performance.  In addition to writing this post, I also shot my first Prose and Ivy vlog for the site which is posted below and on my new youtube channel to partner up with this blog.  You can check out the site and leave comments on my blog here (obviously) and leave comments on my videos on youtube…the channel is called ProseAndIvyTV…by clicking here.

Here is the video I shot today about Dawson getting into the Hall of Fame:

Congratulations again to Andre “The Hawk” Dawson!  Baseball Hall of Fame – Class of 2010.  You deserve it and I’m thrilled for you.  Go Cubs Go!

DAWSON IS IN!

Need to get back to this tonight when I have more time to write, but I had to jump on quick and celebrate with a tiny post at least….2010!  Hall of Famer Andre Dawson!!!!  The Hawk is in!!!  So cool…way to go Andre!  See you in Cooperstown!

Byrd and Hawk Making Headlines

One of the major upsides I’ve heard so far to the Cubs signing Marlon Byrd as their new center fielder is that he’s a guy who comes with great character. Quality as a person through and through, the kind of guy the Cubs should be welcoming into a clubhouse that has seen it’s share of in fighting, finger pointing and broken Gatorade coolers in recent years.  I reached out to Texas fans on Twitter the other day to find out their POV of what we’re getting in Byrd and one of the responses I received read, “[Byrd is] an awesome team player who never quits!  He’s a player that will run out everything even if it’s a routine groundball.  He will make plays that will astound you in the outfield! I am sad to see him go.  He will be a player that I will watch and root for wherever he goes.”  Sounds like the kind of person we should be thrilled to have as a Cub in 2010.  Let’s hope he’s the kind of player we’d like as well.

Cubs hitting coach Jamarillo had Byrd for a few years and thinks very highly of him.  He has Byrd pencilled in as solid five hole guy in the Cubs batting lineup to start the season and mentioned he’s a great leader in the clubhouse and a great teacher.  Seeing that Byrd averaged .295 over the three years he worked with Jamarillo in Texas, it would appear that he understands the tools Jamarillo uses to teach so another solid leader improving our lineup from 1-9 couldn’t hurt.  We lost too many games last year due to an ineffective offense, run production way down from the year before.  Time to get back in form and match the success of ’07 and ’08 with division crowns.  Only this time, match that success with positive results in the playoffs (aka: don’t get swept by LA).

Sure Marlon’s last name obviously helps recall a guy like Andre Dawson whose nickname is the Hawk, but it’s the quality people see in his character that I’d like to focus on here.  Even Ryne Sandberg mentioned in his Hall of Fame acceptance speech that Dawson was once of the classiest teammates he ever had and that Dawson played the game the way the game was supposed to be played.  Sandberg said, “Andre Dawson, the Hawk.  No player in baseball history worked harder, suffered more, or did it better than Andre Dawson.  He’s the best I’ve ever seen.  I watched him win MVP for a last place team in 1987 and it was the most unbelievable thing I’ve ever seen in baseball.”  The intangibles should be focused on when it comes to voting players into the Hall of Fame in addition to their career stats.  Andre Dawson should be a no-brainer to be voted in this year seeing that he has been on the ballot for nine years now and is long overdue.  He brought speed, power, defense and character to the ballpark year in and year out…starting with his first year as a Cub where he agreed to a blank contract and let the Cubs decide how much they wanted to pay him after he’d already agreed.  He loved the game of baseball and loved being a Cub.  Time for the BBWAA to show some love back.

After doing some research I came across a copy of the Hall Of Fame ballot sent to voting members of the BBWAA:

2010 hof ballot.png 
And here is a copy of the information the voters were sent regarding Dawson’s career:
 2010 hof ballot player info.png
Nothing mentioned anywhere about the character of any of the players listed above.  I believe Dawson’s numbers speak for themselves.  If the voters aren’t sure and are on the fence about  the Hawk, they should listen to some of the greats that are already in the Hall of Fame.  They are speaking for Dawson as well and providing even more reasons the Hawk should be in the Hall.  Byrd should not be held to the standard of the Hawk in all fairness.  Then again, if he were to hold himself to the Hawk’s standard and Jaramillo’s theory of Byrd being a great teacher is accurate, that could have an amazing effect on the 2010 Cubs.  We won’t know how Byrd turns out for the Cubs for quite some time.  The Hawk on the other hand will hear his fate in a few days from now.  (You can keep an eye on how long he has to wait to hear the news with the countdown listed in the right hand column).  Hope to see you making your speech in Cooperstown this summer Andre.  Go Cubs Go!

A Hall of Fame Look at Ryne Sandberg. Is Dawson next?

Monday is the day we find out whether Andre Dawson joins fellow Cub great Ryne Sandberg in the Baseball Hall of Fame.  While I believe this IS the year of the Hawk, many consider him to be on the fence in terms of qualifications.  I generally use Prose and Ivy for strictly observation and evaluation.  Tonight, however, in honor of The Hawk and what Monday could mean for him, I’ll use the space for celebration.  Celebration of my favorite Cub of all-time, Hall of Famer Ryne Sandberg.

Though he made his Major League debut with the Phillies in ’81, Sandberg was traded to the Cubs for his rookie year the following season.  After spending ’82 at third base, he shifted to second, where he stayed for the remainder of his career.
Sandberg first gained national attention on June 23, 1984, when he went 5 for 6 with game tying home runs off the Cards’ Bruce Sutter in the ninth AND tenth innings on national television.  Talk about great timing.  The Cubs won it in the 11th and the contest thereafter became known as “The Sandberg Game”.  Good times.
Sandberg won the ’84 NL MVP Award hitting .314 with 200 hits, 36 doubles, 19 triples, 19 home runs, 84 RBI’s and 32 stolen bases to lead the Cubs to their first postseason appearance since 1945.  Ah, ’84.  Good year.
Sandberg was masterful in the field winning nine straight Gold Gloves at second base (’83-’91) and retiring with an all-time best .989 fielding percentage at the position.  He also set a then ML record with a 123 game errorless streak from 1989-90.  In my opinion, the best second baseman of all-time.
Sandberg led Chicago back to the playoffs in 1989, when the Cubs fell to the Giants in the NLCS. During his two trips to the playoffs, he batted .385 with a .457 OBP and a .641 slugging percentage in 10 games.  If only there were wild card series back then.
Sandberg’s best power year came in 1990 when he slugged 40 home runs, the first time a second baseman had led the league in that category since Hornsby in ’25.  He also plated 100 runs, a feat repeated in 1991 by Ryne.  Check out those old Expos uni’s.  Remember those Hawk?
Known to fans as “Ryno” or “Kid Natural”, Sandberg was also adept on the basepaths.  He stole 30 or more bases every year from 1982 to 1986, led the NL in runs scored three times and placed in the top five and additional five times.  Whether he was defending the basepaths or running on them, Ryne was a huge threat.  Speed.  Another tool Hawk had at his disposal throughout his career.  Hall of famer?  We’ll see.
After a slow start to the 1994 season (which was shortened by the strike), Sandberg abruptly announced his retirement on June 13 at age 34, citing “loss of desire”.  Sixteen months later he announced he was coming back and “Ryno” returned with two productive years in ’96 and ’97.  The more Ryno the better as far as I was concerned…still am.
Ryno was selected to 10 straight All-Star games from 1984 to 1993 and started nine of those contests.  He also took home seven Silver Slugger awards for his prowess at the plate.  Best of his time.  Best of all time.
Sandberg retired for good after the 1997 season and had his number 23 retired by the Cubs in 2005.  His 277 home runs as a second baseman were the most all-time until Jeff Kent broke the mark in 2004.  Overall, Ryno finished with a .285 BA, 403 doubles, 76 triples, 282 homers, 1,061 RBI, and 344 stolen bases in a 16 year career.  Wow.
That same year, Sandberg was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame (where all these pictures and information is from, by the way) alongside Wade Boggs on Jan 4, 2005.  In his third year on the ballot, he received 76.2 percent of the votes cast to gain entry.  Enshrined for all to honor and appreciate for years and years to come.
Later that year, he was inducted into the Hall on July 31, 2005.  Ryne is quoted in his acceptance speech as having said: “I dreamed of this as a child, but I had too much respect for baseball to think this was ever possible.  I believe it is because I had so much respect for the game and respect for getting the most out of my ability that I stand here today.”  Class all the way.
Will Monday prove 2009 to be the class that Dawson belongs to?  Only a couple days left before we find out.  I can’t wait.  Go Hawk Go!