Beltre and Mauer Emerge as Deserving Hall of Famers, Helton’s Induction Raises Questions

Wading into Baseball Hall of Fame debates is like diving into a pool full of eels, if the eels were up their own ass (personally, not physically, which eels might be able to do). Everyone’s got their own benchmarks, everyone hates your benchmarks, and never the twain shall meet. At the end of the day, all of us baseball fans are debating other people’s opinions. Which is the same as getting worked up about the Oscars, perhaps the only ceremony decided on by people even more up their own ass than baseball writers.

I’ve come to the conclusion that vibes should be the deciding factor for any Hall of Fame entry. Basically, when we watched this player, did he feel like a Hall player? Did you think you were watching something historic when he walked to the plate? Every fan knows what that feels like.

Which makes Adrian Beltre and Joe Mauer no-brainers. Beltre is probably the best defensive third baseman of his generation, who also racked up 477 homers. We don’t often assign Hall-worthiness to defense, but watching Beltre man third base, you knew you were watching someone who was doing it at a different level than everyone else.

Mauer did that behind the plate, while hitting .365 one year and finishing with a career .388 on-base percentage. He was basically the player that Cardinals fans huffed enough jenkem to convince themselves Yadier Molina was. Concussions took Mauer from out behind the plate and eventually clipped his career a little short too. Mauer’s 10 years behind the plate compare favorably with Buster Posey’s, as does his post-catching career. Posey’s an easy Hall of Famer, so is Mauer.

And Todd Helton…was just a very good player? When Helton and the Rockies rolled into your town, you knew that Helton was their best player most seasons…and that was it. He was certainly boosted by Coors Field, and his career 121 wRC+ and a .363 wOBA on the road is fine. More than fine. But not much beyond that.

Helton’s 54.9 WAR over 16 seasons is the same as…Luis Gonzalez? It’s the same as Brian Giles, who had 1,600 fewer plate appearances. Did anyone outside of Denver think they were watching history when Helton came to the plate? Or just a guy who was really good and might be a problem for their team to get out?

But whatever. Nothing is going to fall down when Helton walks through the doors at Cooperstown. They’ll have a nice day at Coors for him. He’ll get a plaque. It’s fine.

It’s nothing worth more than keeping an eye on, but yesterday the Flyers goalie Carter Hart took an indefinite leave of absence. This was a couple days after Calgary’s Dillon Dube did the same. Both of them were on the 2018 Canadian World Junior team, the one that’s been under investigation for over a year over an alleged gang-rape of a woman in London Ontario in June of 2018. When we last left that investigation, the independent counsel had submitted that report in November but wasn’t making it public to allow for appeals. From whom we don’t know, but that’s where we are.

It could all be a coincidence. Players are taking their mental health more seriously than ever before, and teams are allowing them to do so. Other players have taken the time they need as well. Just worth keeping tabs on, is all.

The biggest annoyance for a lot of soccer fans is the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) because it takes away important players from European club teams in the middle of the season and we supporters can get a little uppity about such things because we’re oh so mature, has been utterly off the hook this edition.

First off, there have been goals galore. 90 in 32 games so far. Secondly, parity has come for the tournament, or at least there have been upsets all over the place. Cape Verde topped a group that Egypt and Ghana, the latter of which is now out on its ass after the group stage. Equatorial Guinea trounced hosts Ivory Coast and topped the group that also had Nigeria. Morocco drew with DR Congo.

It got truly silly yesterday when historical power Cameroon needed a miracle to get out of the group.

That’s three goals after the 85th minute, and a VAR review canceling out another one that would have left Cameroon sweating out whether or not they would go through as one of the best third-place teams. Cameroon have been an adventure all tourney, including having their keeper Andre Onana (who got booted out of the World Cup by manager Rigobert Song over an argument on whether to take goal kicks long or short) miss the first game of the tournament to stick with Manchester United, be pretty bad in their second game, and then get benched for the third.

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