Tag: Ozzie Smith

Ozzie Smith Talks Derek Jeter’s Career and Gives His Shortstop Mount Rushmore

For many, the 2014 Major League Baseball season won’t be just another season. It will also be a time to bid farewell to one of the most beloved players baseball has ever known: Derek Jeter.

Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith, however, won’t just be bidding farewell to a beloved player. In seeing the New York Yankees captain out the door, he’ll also be bidding farewell to a fellow shortstop and a man he’s “very proud” to call a friend.

That’s a sentiment “The Wizard” expressed while discussing a variety of Jeter topics with Bleacher Report on Tuesday in a phone interview meant to promote a campaign he’s working on with Budweiser. Regarding Jeter’s retirement announcement, Smith said he was surprised by the timing of it, but probably not as surprised as the rest of us.

“As we get older, that time comes for all of us,” said Smith. And he would know. Like Jeter is about to, Smith also played into his 40s, playing his last season in 1996 at the age of 41.

Of course, it’s no secret that there’s more than just age at work in Jeter’s situation. A fractured left ankle suffered in the 2012 playoffs kept him out of action until July in 2013. That and a host of other injuries limited him to just 17 games. He admitted in his retirement announcement that 2013 “was a tough one.”

Smith sympathizes: “When you get as injured as he has late in his career, it makes it a little bit tougher.”

With his immediate future somewhat uncertain, it’s no wonder many are taking the time to look back at Jeter’s best moments. When asked if he has any favorites of his own, Smith said it was good enough for him simply to watch Jeter over the years.

Just watching the way that he went about his job every day,” said Smith. “He was very, very professional. He did his job every day. He was just one of those blue-collar guys who put his time in, and it paid off. He’s been a great asset to the game of baseball, and I wish him nothing but the best.”

Since he became a full-time player in 1996, 2013 was only the third season in which Jeter failed to play in at least 148 games. Along the way, he’s racked up a .312 career average, won five World Series and has been involved in hardly any controversies.

To that last point, that Jeter has been able to do so while spending his entire career in the Big Apple is an aspect of his legend that Smith doesn’t think should be taken lightly.

“New York is not an easy place to play,” said The Wizard. “But Derek is one of those special people who had what it took to play there. He kept his nose clean, always said the right thing and just has been very, very professional.”

And this, for Smith, demands a shoutout to two people in particular: “I think that we have to say that his parents probably get a lot of credit for that. He had a great upbringing and has just been nothing but class.”

Having thrived in New York for 19 years (and counting), Smith is of the mind that Jeter doesn’t have anything else to prove. In light of that, he’s in the same boat that pretty much all of us are in regarding Jeter’s upcoming farewell tour: He’s earned it.

“Very few players have the opportunity to take what is termed ‘a tour,’ ” said Smith, whose own farewell tour didn’t begin until after he announced his retirement midway through the 1996 season. “And with what he’s accomplished in New York, with the way he’s represented Major League Baseball, with his professionalism, his dignity, his pride and his honor, Jeter is certainly deserving of it.”

Five years after Jeter’s tour ends will come another, much higher validation of his career. It’s a given that he’s going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, just as recently retired teammate Mariano Rivera will be when his time comes.

And if you ask Smith, these two might finally do something no other Hall of Famer has done yet.

“I think he and Mariano probably would be the first two guys, if [ever] we were to have a chance to see someone making it as a unanimous choice for the Hall of Fame,” said Smith.

For now, Jeter already has a special place in history in Smith’s eyes. When asked to name his shortstop Mount Rushmore, Smith was quick to include him.

“Well, of course Cal would be on there. Derek would be on there. Omar Vizquel would be on there. The guy I got traded for actually would be one of those guys because he was a true five-tool player,” said Smith.

Also, naturally: “And of course, I’d put myself on there.”

If you’re scoring at home, that’s Cal Ripken Jr., Jeter, Vizquel, Garry Templeton and Smith himself. You’ll have to visualize The Wizard’s shortstop Mount Rushmore on your own, but statistically it looks like this:

Of the numbers up there, only Jeter’s aren’t set in stone yet. For what it’s worth, he is within range of Smith’s career WAR. One last great season in 2014 will put him right there with The Wizard among the greats to ever play shortstop in WAR’s eyes.

That’s a journey that Jeter will start on April 1 when he and the Yankees take on the Astros in Houston. Opening Day for the rest of Major League Baseball is the day before on March 31.

And if Smith and his beer-brewing buddies have their way, that day will be a national holiday. As in, for real this time.

As far as Smith and Budweiser are concerned, Opening Day has gone long enough without being declared an official national holiday. Smith says it might as well be considering that many Americans already treat it like one.

“There are 22 million Americans who at some point in time have played hooky from work and school. So that in and of itself makes it an unofficial holiday,” said Smith of Opening Day. He added that he’s not asking for much, as merely getting Opening Day proclaimed “as some type of day of observance would really fit the bill.”

Smith will be on the campaign trail for the next 30 days as he and Budweiser attempt to collect 100,000 signatures on a petition at Budweiser.com/OpeningDay. And while only fans 21 and older can sign it, the White House is required to respond if the signature quota is met within the 30-day window.

“Hopefully we can get that done by March 26,” said Smith of the 100,000 signatures, “and I’ll be able to take them right to the White House steps and give them to the president.”

As of this writing, the petition had over 9,000 signatures on it. If you’re of proper age and would like to see Opening Day declared an official national holiday, you know what to do.


Note: Stats courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com. Quotes obtained firsthand.


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Budweiser and Ozzie Smith Are Trying to Make MLB Opening Day a National Holiday

Here’s hoping “The Wizard” has a bit more magic to offer MLB fans, because Ozzie Smith is teaming up with Budweiser for a campaign petitioning the White House to make Opening Day a national holiday. 

For the Win’s Ted Berg spotted this video that should provide a sense of optimism, however small, to those fans who feign illness every single time the baseball season begins. 

Maybe, just maybe, a baseball legend and beer company can pull off the unimaginable and combine the foolish hope that comes with Opening Day with the carefree whimsy of a day off from work and school. 

The impetus behind the campaign is simple. Smith explains in the video, “Opening Day should be a holiday. Let’s make it official. All we need is 100,000 signatures on the way to the White House.”

Yes, we have yet another petition to throw onto the pile, which seems to be massive as it pertains to Barack Obama’s tenure. 

For the White House to address the petition, 100,000 signatures are needed. As of Tuesday evening, there are a little more than 14,000 at the petition’s page, which was created on Feb. 24. Fans, however, have until March 26 to get to the magical mark. 

This is a fantastic idea that does have an obvious wrinkle, as Berg points out:

Due to Major League Baseball’s recent scheduling trend, there’s no real opening day anymore.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch’s Lisa Brown has a similar sentiment:

The league’s 2014 opening day is Monday, March 31, although several teams play regular season games prior to opening day. The New York Yankees and the Houston Astros don’t play their first games of the season until April 1.

The Dodgers and Diamondbacks, for example, open up the season in Australia on March 22, and the two teams will also engage in a couple of exhibition games against Team Australia that will take place prior to the season opener. 

Chris Vaccaro seems to think the holiday is a fine idea, though:

We agree. 

Sure, it may be our biased affection for hot dogs, beer and baseball, as well as the notion that with 162 games to be played, anything is truly possible. 

However, if the Super Bowl isn’t gaining traction as a holiday, MLB has little chance of delivering the biggest gift to its fans in the form of a day off, so pack this daydream away next to thoughts of World Series glory. 

As for all the games taking place on various days, know that MLB would instantly remedy that if the White House actually declares the sport worthy of a holiday. 

For now, we will have to settle with faking a cough sometime in late March, culminating in a coincidental call that we can’t make it into work, because the baseball flu is quite severe this year. 


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Cardinals Legend Ozzie Smith to Sell Gold Gloves and Other Marvelous Memorabilia

Ozzie Smith is auctioning off pieces of MLB history. 

The man who backflipped his way out onto the field with as much flash as he played the game is selling some rather remarkable pieces of memorabilia. 

ESPN reports the legend affectionately known as The Wizard is set to auction off items I have no doubt will fetch quite the handsome sum:

Hall of Famer and former St. Louis Cardinals great Ozzie Smith is selling his 13 Gold Gloves, 11 of his All-Star Game rings and more than 100 pieces of memorabilia from his personal collection in a November on-line auction. 

When you have the career Smith had, you have quite the collection of hardware. While it’s sad to see Smith part with such items, baseball collectors have to be giddy at the prospects of owning a chunk of MLB history. 

Baseball geeks with deep pockets, bust out that checkbook. 

The report states the auction will begin on begin Nov. 14 and end on Dec. 1, and will be overseen by SCP Auctions of Laguna Niguel, Calif. 

The 57-year-old former shortstop decided to sell the items “as part of his estate and family planning.”

In a statement, SCP Auctions managing director Dan Imler had this to say: 

Ozzie Smith was one of the most entertaining and charismatic figures ever to play Major League Baseball. The items in this collection represent the honors bestowed on him for his many contributions to the success of the St. Louis Cardinals.

CBS Sports reports Smith made a solid amount in his playing days and has since had a couple of business ventures:

(Smith) made just under $32 million ($31,650,000) in his playing career, according to Baseball-Reference.com. He retired after the 1996 season and has had various entrepreneur ventures — like a restaurant and salad dressing — since his playing days.

He recently helped out as a special instructor to the Cardinals during spring training this past season. 

For whatever the reason, one of the best fielders in the history of the game is letting some amazing accolades go to auction. 

Cardinals fans, it may time to break out those piggy banks. 


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Albert Pujols: Will His Support For Glenn Beck Hurt His Popularity?

Yes, I said support for Glenn Beck, it’s simple, if you go to an event you support it. Period.

Am I wrong?

Mr. Albert Pujols might have made the wrong choice, it is clear he had the right motive, the Hope award was given to Mr. Albert Pujols for his countless charitable work in the St. Louis community.

But why did the award had to be given in this venue?

He could of just received it in a quit ceremony before a game or at a charitable event with no political undertones.

Can we agree on that?

Now Mr. Pujols’ name and video clip showing him speaking at the Beck event are in just about every

Blog-Political action web-site in the planet, all with similar headlines.

“Albert Pujols picks up award at the Glenn Beck”… Headline from -The Hill-

“Albert Pujols wows the crowd at “Restoring Honor” rally in DC”… Headline from -Gateway Pundit

“Pujols honored at Glenn Beck rally” … Headline from-Fox Sports-

Get the idea. Yes Mr.La Russa, they promised you it wouldn’t be political, what can you tell us now dear sir?

This Sunday morning someone has to ask Tony La Russa one simple question, Sir was it political?

The answer of course should be just as simple; Yes or No.

Guess who Fox News Sunday had as their special guess this morning?

You got it! Glenn Beck.

Not political indeed.

I spend a few hours this morning reading comments and blogs on this subject, all opinions are right along political or racial lines, so we can say “mission accomplished Mr. Glenn Beck” that’s what he is good at , dividing people(with anger)along those two lines.

Many baseball fans are disappointed and others very angry at Albert, specially in the Latino community.

I don’t expect he will get any awards from them soon.

It’s a shame Tony La Russa hoodwinked Mr. Albert Pujols into participating in an event hosted by a man who profits by playing folks against each other.

I guess it will have to be a lesson learned for Mr. Albert Pujols.

As always this is just a fans opinion and from what I understand everybody has one and I thank God for that.

Enough said.


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Albert Pujols: Tony La Russa Leave Albert Be, You Go Adore Glenn Beck !

According to a report on ESPN.com Tony La Russa announced that Albert Pujols will appear with him in a Glenn Beck event at the Lincoln Memorial where Rev. Martin Luther King made his famous civil rights speech.

Here is a quote from the great Tony La Russa:

“I made it clear when we were approached: I said, ‘If it’s political, I wouldn’t even approach Albert with it,’ ” La Russa said, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, of the “Restoring Honor” rally set for the Lincoln Memorial. “I don’t want to be there if it’s political.”

I said the great Tony La Russa, but after reading that quote the words naïve or not intellectually curious came to mind, but then again he may just be a real Glenn Beck zombie.

Nothing wrong with that, everybody has the right to their opinions.

Can we all agree on that?

Reasonable folks do understand that anything Glenn Beck does is political, a way of self promotion and lets not forget a plan to laugh his way all the way to the bank.

Oh! Just in case you want to know, the yearly income information varies from 18 to 35 million, either way that’s a lot of dough folks.

Good for him, I don’t like the guy, just my choice, but you got to admire his business plan; hate always sells and he is the master of it.

The great boxer Muhammad Ali said he could hit you with a jab before you could blink your eyes

Mr. Beck tops that in spades: he can throw a jab, a hook, kick you in your privates, and walk away with another million and a big smile.

Good for him, God bless him.

Albert Pujols should ask his manager to mind his own business and not get him involved in what could turn out to be an embarrassment for MLB. Some of the posters brought to those events are very offensive; look them up I won’t give them play here.

That alone should give Pujols a hint; staying home may be the prudent thing to do.


Sr. Pujols por favor no se deje usar come un instrumento politico por Toni LaRussa, usted sole le debe ser un buen jugador en el campo.

Nada mas!

Mr. Tony La Russa should go and enjoy his day off at the big Glenn Beck event and let Albert hang out with his buddies; that should make everybody happy.

As always, especially on this article, this is just a fan’s opinion and from what I understand everybody has one and I thank God for that.

Enough said.


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Keeping Up With The Musials: Why Andruw Jones Is a Hall of Famer

It’s safe to say that Andruw Jones has been one of the most disappointing baseball players in recent memory.

Just five years ago, Jones was in the middle of a fantastic season wherein he hit 51 homers with a .922 OPS (despite a .240 BABIP) and was worth 8.3 WAR. As recently as 2007, he slammed 26 long balls while driving in 94 and accumulating 3.8 WAR.

Then disaster struck.

In 2008, after signing a two-year, $36 million with the Dodgers, Jones absolutely tanked, hitting just .158 with three homers and a .505 OPS; he struck out in more than a third of his at-bats and his once prodigious power disappeared, as evidenced by his Michael Bourn-esque .091 ISO.

In the 160 games Jones has played with the Rangers and White Sox in 2009-10, he’s regained some of his lost power, bashing 32 homers with a .244 ISO in just under 600 plate appearances. However, those numbers don’t seem particularly special for a guy who’s spent the majority of his time at first base and DH, especially when combined with a putrid .209 batting average. No one’s mistaking him for an All-Star.

And yet, there is no doubt that Andruw Jones belongs in the Hall of Fame.

Wait, what?

For starters, let’s not be too hasty and dismiss his earlier offensive accomplishments. In 12 years with the Braves, he averaged 33 homers and 98 RBI per 162 games with an .824 OPS. He hit the 20/20 club three times, including his 31/27 season in 1998.

His 403 career homers put him 46th all-time, ahead of current Cooperstown residents Al Kaline (399), Jim Rice (382), Ralph Kiner (369), and Albert Pujols (okay, so he’s not in the Hall of Fame yet, but I’m sure they’re already molding his bust). And while 31 was a tad on the young side for a complete collapse, don’t forget that he had established himself as a key part of the Braves outfield before he was old enough to drink.

But all of that is just icing on the cake.

Forget everything he did at the plate, on the base paths, or in the dugout; if for no other reason, Andruw Jones deserves to be enshrined because of what he did in center field.

Jones isn’t just one of the best defensive outfielders of his generation—he’s arguably the best-fielding outfielder of all time, and surely ranks among the top glovesmen in baseball history at any position.

Jones won 10 consecutive Gold Gloves from 1998-2007. Even opening it up to players who were honored in multiple, nonconsecutive years, that beats Ichiro (nine), Torii Hunter (nine), Andre Dawson (eight), Jim Edmonds (eight), Larry Walker (seven), and Kenny Lofton (four).

The only outfielders who have ever done better are Willie Mays and Roberto Clemente (12 each), but I’m sure you’ll join me in condoning Jones for not quite living up to their lofty standard.

Of course, you could argue that Gold Gloves are a popularity contest, and aren’t necessarily the best way to determine the game’s best defenders (see Matt Kemp and Derek Jeter last year).

It’s true, they don’t accurately describe Jones’ accomplishments—they don’t do them justice.

According to TotalZone (used for seasons from 1954-2001) and Ultimate Zone Rating (2002-now), statistics that use batted-ball type and location data to quantify a fielder’s contribution to his team, contribution to his team, Jones has saved 274.3 runs in his career with his glove—that’s about 28 wins worth of value for his career without taking into account anything he’s done with his bat.

If that number isn’t terribly impressive to you, perhaps you should consider the context—it’s the best score of any outfielder in baseball history, and a look at the Top 10 shows that it’s not particularly close:



Andruw Jones



Roberto Clemente



Barry Bonds



Willie Mays



Carl Yastrzemski



Paul Blair



Jesse Barfield



Al Kaline



Jim Piersall



Brian Jordan




These statistics are far from perfect, and there’s definitely an argument to be made that the older numbers are particularly flawed. But even if we can’t use it to compare players of different eras (could the margin of error really be more than 70 runs?), we can see just how amazing Jones has been by comparing him to his contemporaries.

If you noticed that the only other names of those 10 who played at the same time as Jones were Bonds (whose days as a serviceable fielder were numbered by the time Jones made his debut) and the woefully unappreciated Jordan, you can probably see where this is going.

Then there’s Darin Erstad’s 146.6. There’s Ichiro’s 120.2, Carl Crawford’s 119.8, Kenny Lofton’s 114.5, Mike Cameron’s 110.7, Larry Walker’s 86.0, and Jim Edmonds’ 57.5.

None of them even come close. In fact, Jones’ score is better than any two of those names’ combined.

It’s not just outfielders, either. Jones’ TZR/UZR is the second best of all-time, trailing only Brooks Robinson. Compare his 274.3 runs saved with Cal Ripken Jr.’s 181.0, Ivan Rodriguez’ 156.0, Luis Aparicio’s 149.0, and Omar Vizquel’s 136.4.

He even beats true defensive legends like Joe Tinker (180.0), Honus Wagner (85.0), and the amazing Ozzie Smith (239.0). If you can go toe-to-toe with the “Wizard of Oz” in the field, you barely need a pulse offensively to deserve a place in Cooperstown.

Jones hasn’t had time to slowly build up his score by being a consistently solid fielder; instead, he grabbed the bull by the horns and has enjoyed some of the best individual defensive seasons in baseball history.

In 1998, at age 21, he was worth 35 runs in the field, which at the time was tied for the second-best defensive performance since tracking began in 1950. In 1999, he promptly went out and beat that, earning 36 TZR.

All told, he appears on the Top 80 list for single-season TZR five times. And that’s not including UZR, which has been kinder to him than TZR since 2003.

Will the Baseball Writers Association of America vote him in when his time comes? Probably not. Even assuming the voters have learned how to use the newfangled defensive metrics by then (far from a sure thing, given that a majority of NL Cy Young voters implicitly declared wins to be the most important pitching statistic last year), there are too many reasons for them to doubt his candidacy.

While TZR and UZR make sense and are great tools for getting a general idea of a player’s defensive prowess, they’re too inconsistent for fans to take as the word of God (though, in my opinion, a 70-run lead is more than enough to cancel out the margin of error).

Aside from that, you’ve got a free-swinging, power-hitting outfielder (a dime a dozen over the last 20 years) who fell off a cliff right before his 32nd birthday. He’d have to return to his younger form and maintain it for at least a few more years in order to have a realistic shot at Cooperstown.

But, as the Beatles song goes, “All you need is glove,” unless I heard that wrong.

And that’s what Ozzie Smith proved when he got more than 90 percent of the vote for the Hall of Fame in 2002. Combine phenomenal defense with a solid bat (remember those 403 homers?), and there’s no question Andruw Jones deserves a spot in Cooperstown.

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All You Need Is Glove: The 10 Best Double Play Combos of the 1980’s

This is the second in a series of decade-by-decade looks at the greatest double-play combinations of all time. If you haven’t read the first one, you should go here: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/411082-up-the-middle-the-top-10-double-play-combos-of-the-2000s

The 1980’s were a decade of double plays. It started in 1980, when “The Bad News Bears: Double Play” was released, to little fanfare (it was much worse than the original). It finished as a decade featuring some of the greatest double play combinations in baseball history.

The Guidelines

1.) These rankings are purely measurements of defensive prowess. Offensive ability is not taken into account. Apologizes to Roberto Alomar and Garry Templeton.

2.) Gold Gloves, as they can be pretty subjective, do not affect my decisions. Plus, during the 1980’s, Ozzie Smith and Ryne Sandberg won combined for 17 of them. It would just skew the argument unfairly.

3.) I’m measuring how both players performed together. Just because Frank White can win a Gold Glove, doesn’t mean that the Royals could competently find a good second baseman.

4.) In my last article, the requirement for consideration was that the duo had to log multiple seasons in which both played manned the middle infield positions for at least one hundred games.

However, over the past decade we have been lucky enough not to have a strike. During the 1980’s, however, the 1981 strike lessened the season from 162 games to 100. Instead of 100 games as the criteria, I used the appropriate ratio, which was approximately 62% of their team’s games. So, any 1981 season in which the player played approximately 62 games is eligible for consideration.

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2010 MLB All-Star Game: The All Time NL All Star Starting Lineup

In the 2010 MLB All-Star Game, Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Andre Ethier will be starting in his first ever All-Star Game. For Ethier, just being selected is, no doubt, a thrill, and being chosen as a starter probably doubles his excitement.

Perhaps Andre Ethier will one day be on this list of the players who have the most All-Star Game starts, by position, in National League history.

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The 10 Greatest St. Louis Cardinals of All Time

The St. Louis Cardinals are the most successful baseball franchise in National League history. Second only to the New York Yankees, the Cardinals have won 10 World Series titles.

The consistent presence of great athletes and coaches is hugely responsible for the club’s success. Each great Red Birds team has seen one or more Hall of Fame caliber players.

Breaking down the greats and creating a top 10 was no easy feat. With so many great players, the list is open for debate.

Let’s take a look at the 10 best players to ever wear a Cardinal uniform.

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Derek Jeter and The Top 10 Shortstops of All Time

In 2010, Derek Jeter is playing his 16th season at shortstop for the New York Yankees.

He is already the Yankees’ all-time leader in hits, he already has five World Series championships, and he has won four Gold Gloves.

Soon, Jeter will sign what will likely be the final contract of his illustrious career, reach the 3,000 hit plateau, and begin to move up the all time leader board in career hits and runs.

So, naturally, the question arises: where does Derek Jeter rank amongst the all time great shortstops?

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