January 12, 2014 in Sports

A Grip on sports: Edgar a one-trick pony? Yeah, so what

A Grip On Sports
 
Associated Press photo

Former Seattle Mariners designated hitter Edgar Martinez hit 512 doubles in his career.
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Vince Grippi has an opinion about everything local, especially sports. Every Sunday we provide samples of his daily riffs. Read him daily at spokesman.com/sportslink.

Wednesday: It won’t be a good day in the Edgar Martinez household. The Baseball Hall of Fame  will announce its 2014 inductees this morning and once again the best line-drive hitter to ever wear a Mariners uniform will be disappointed.

You know what Major League Baseball’s designated hitter award is named, right? Yeah, the Edgar Martinez Award. Yet the guy whose name is on the award will probably never be honored with a plaque in the Hall of Fame. It might be because his name is on the award.

There are some people who would never vote a designated hitter into the  Hall of Fame. For some reason these folks, who have no trouble voting for starting pitchers and closers into the Hall, don’t see DHs as complete players. Very few argue with Martinez’s lifetime numbers (.312 batting average, .418 on-base percentage, .933 OPS, 1,261 RBI, 512 doubles which is 50th all-time) but a bunch of folks disparage them because he was a DH.

Basically, they are saying if Martinez had trundled out to first base every day, booted a few ground balls, showed the range of a lamp post and cost his team defensively (as a few Hall of Fame first basemen did during their careers – I’m talking about you Jimmy Foxx) then they would vote for him?

That doesn’t make sense. Martinez was a decent third baseman early in his career – though he led the league in errors at the position in 1990, he also posted the fifth-best fielding percentage for the position the next year – but the Mariners realized he helped the team more as a designated hitter. Isn’t that what baseball is all about? Helping your team?

So Martinez became a DH. He excelled at it. And more than likely cost himself a shot at Cooperstown.

Tuesday: Each and every BCS national title game was hyped. Over-hyped. And only a couple ever lived up to that pre-game hype. Last night was one of them.

There are a couple memories I’ll take from this game. One is Tre Mason using Florida State’s freshman safety Jalen Ramsey as a speed bump en route to what looked to be the game-winning touchdown.

All I could think of was Deone Bucannon’s hit in Auburn some five months ago. It wasn’t Mason whom Bucannon destroyed that day (it was backup running back Corey Grant) but if the WSU senior had been in the hole last night, I think Mason wouldn’t have scored on his 37-yard run.

If Mason had been tackled there and Auburn had found a way to get the ball in the end zone a bit later, there wouldn’t have been enough time for Jameis Winston to engineer his comeback drive.

Up until the final drive Winston didn’t look like an All-Pac-12 quarterback let alone the Heisman winner. Even with the game-winning drive in his resume he still wasn’t all that impressive. In fact, after having seen him a few times this season, I would say he would have struggled to make the All-Pac-12 team. Oregon’s Marcus Mariota, ASU’s Taylor Kelly and UCLA’s Brett Hundley all seemed to be superior quarterbacks. But Winston does have the national title ring.

Thursday: OK, so what was the deal with 3,122 in the stands?

I understand the problem with driving to Pullman in the middle of winter, so I’m not going to come down too hard on Spokane’s Cougar fans for not doing that, especially when the chances of winning – and feeling that glow that comes along with it – are not great.

But what’s the excuse last night?

The Tri-Cities came up with 2,911 on a Wednesday night last month for a game against San Francisco State. Geez, Colorado is one of the better teams in the nation and worth the price of admission by itself. And this area couldn’t do better than 3,122? I’m at a loss.

Friday: When the final buzzer sounded on Portland’s 82-73 win over visiting Gonzaga last night, the ESPNU cameras kept rolling as the Portland students rushed the court.

The cameras happened to catch something I really love about college athletics. In the midst of the scrum on the floor, one of the Portland players shared his happiness with a guy from the stands.

The player had high-fived his teammates, sure, but his conversation with a student at least 6-inches shorter than him showed they were good friends.

The joy of two friends sharing something special was easy to see. Sometimes we forget college athletes are students too and their circle of buddies extends beyond the athletic department.


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