Sully Baseball Podcast – Trammell and Morris in the Hall of Fame and other Cooperstown Wishes – December 11, 2017


Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports

Detroit Tigers stars Alan Trammell and Jack Morris are now Hall of Famers. Whatever you think of that bears no matter. They are in. Deal with it. It looks like this summer will be super crowded in Cooperstown no matter what.

Why not open the doors to Bonds, Clemens and everyone else for a massive Hall of Fame class?

Becoming immortal in this Episode of Sully Baseball.

While we are at it, enjoy the In Memoriam video.

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’86 Record Breaker Rogers Clemens – 1987 Topps – Sully Baseball Card of the Day for November 21, 2017


So I guess I have to talk about Roger Clemens. He is a complex subject. I wish he wasn’t. I wish we could just celebrate his greatness.

And we could have.

But now we can’t. And here we are.

It is no accident that I have this specific card to represent his greatness. The 1987 Topps Card celebrates his 20 strikeout masterpiece from April 1986. To paraphrase Nuke LaLoosh, that’s when he announced his presence with authority. Oh sure, William Roger Clemens was a top prospect from the University of Texas and had some success in his rookie year of 1984. But this was his coming out party.

The Red Sox I grew up watching (from 1979 to 1985) could always hit with the best of them. But they lacked the lockdown ace. OK, fine. Dennis Eckersley was an All Star Starter but the Red Sox starting staff always was lacking.

When Clemens took the mound on April 29, 1986, as most of Boston was paying attention to the Celtics in the playoffs, he dominated the Mariners like noone else did. Striking out batter after batter, walking none. First baseman Don Baylor dropped a foul pop at one point, making the batter return to the plate only to be struck out.

At that moment, the Red Sox became a contender. And let me explain to you what that meant for your pal Sully. At age 14, I finally had hope as a baseball fan. Oh yeah sure, the Red Sox kind of contended for a while in 1982 but by September it was a Milwaukee/Baltimore race.

In 1986, Clemens looked like the man who was finally going to deliver a title to Fenway. That whole season, he just dominated when he was on the mound. It became an event when it was his turn.

Normally when I was growing up, Red Sox teams played well until around August then they faded. Keep in mind, my following the Red Sox day in and day out started in 1979. So by the time I was 14 years old, I had NEVER seen them in the post season. (I was too young to remember 1975.)

So when the Red Sox finally won the Division and had a stud starter (plus Bruce Hurst and Oil Can Boyd to round out the rotation) I had hope.

Sure, Clemens had a rough Game 1 and the bullpen blew his 9th inning Game 4 lead. But Clemens won the Game 7 clincher against California in the ALCS. And Clemens was on the mound with a lead in Game 6, a potential World Series clincher.

He got a blister, was lifted for pinch hitter Mike Greenwell and, well, we all know what happened in Game 6.

Even after the disastrous ending of the 1986 World Series, there was hope as a Red Sox fan. The hope was the solid foundation of the team and the great arm of their ace.

Hoping for a World Series title no longer seemed like a far fetched idea. Clemens could lead the way. He won the Cy Young Award in 1987 and would have made it 3 in a row in 1988 if not for one bad month.

Arguably he was AL MVP in 1990 as he almost single handedly pitched the Red Sox into the playoffs for the third time in five seasons. He won the Cy Young in 1991, probably should have won it again in 1992 and led the league in strikeouts in 1996, when he matched his feat of 20 strikeouts in a game.

But the Red Sox DIDN’T win it all. In fact when they made the post season in 1988, 1990 and 1995, they were swept out of October without a single win each time. Clemens’ biggest highlight was being thrown out of Game 4 of the 1990 ALCS. Clemens had the regular season numbers but Dave Stewart would best him in the post season.

All the while, he remained my favorite player in baseball and the symbol of Red Sox hope. But then came his contract dispute with Dan Duquette and being declared a star at the end of his career.

The Red Sox did not sign him after the 1996 season and off he went to Toronto. How big a Clemens fan was I then? I wore a Blue Jays cap the days he started. My loyalty remained with him.

And of course Clemens won the Cy Young Award both years he was in Toronto, putting up some of the best numbers of his career. It was almost as if he had a boost.

After the 1998 Cy Young season, Roger Clemens became a Yankee. Now it is hard for me to logically say I was mad at Roger. After all, the Red Sox all but let him go. But the Yankees were unstoppable and I had found a new hope.

Pedro Martinez had arrived in Boston and with his right arm lay all the hopes, wishes and prayers of New England. And suddenly Roger was the enemy.

It felt wrong. But I loved Pedro so much that somehow, it got me wired to see a Red Sox/Yankees collision in October. Sure, I knew in my heart of hearts the Yankees were better. But Pedro made me believe in a way that I hadn’t felt since Roger’s prime.

When Roger and Pedro faced off in the 1999 ALCS, it was no contest. Pedro was unstoppable and Clemens was bombed out of the game, much to the delight of Red Sox fans. Of course, the Red Sox lost ALL the other games of the series, but those are just details.

The Yankees won the 1999 World Series and Clemens pitched well in the clincher. Like when Boggs won with the Yankees in 1996, I felt some conflicting emotions. Yeah sure, it pissed me off that the Yankees won yet another World Series.

But part of me felt good for Roger Clemens. He deserved a World Series ring in 1986 and now he had one. Now his ring in 2000 was overkill, especially since it involved throwing the bat at Mike Piazza.

Now he had gone full villain and became almost impossible to root for. The player who at one point was my favorite player OF ALL TIME became the subject of ire for me.

I hated his crazy glove he wore trying to get his 300th win and was glad it didn’t happen against the Red Sox. I loved that the Red Sox bombed him in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS only to be furious that Grady Little spoiled the “Pedro beating Roger” storyline by not going to the pen quick enough.

Then Roger retired… or did he? When he signed with the Astros, I felt oddly compelled to root for him again. He got another Cy Young and I remembered why I loved him as a Red Sox pitcher.

I almost can’t equate Roger the Yankee and Roger the Astro to Roger the Red Sox ace. I was 14 and just learning to root for a team in the playoffs when he was a star. I was married with twin boys when he pitched in the 2005 World Series.

Then he came back to the Yankees after retiring again, but this point he was done and he got bombed in his final ever appearance.

And of course he was on roids. Ergo, he couldn’t get in on the first ballot. And he had a relationship with a girl that was at best really really creepy. The parties involved say it didn’t get intimate until she was 21… yikes, that’s the BEST case scenario.

I wish we could just celebrate his 7 Cy Youngs and 20 plus seasons of excellence. Of course we can’t. Of course it has to be more complex.

But my love for THIS image of Roger Clemens will never be complex. It is clear as a New England autumn sky. He gave me hope as a Red Sox fan and I can never let go of that.

Sully Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot



I do not have a vote. This blog post does not influence who gets into the Hall of Fame. While I am vigorously working on changing that situation, I might as well cast a fake ballot.

If I were voting for the Baseball Hall of Fame and had to abide by their silly “No More Than 10 Names On The Ballot” rule, this would be how I would fill out my ballot.

They all played in 1999, so they will be represented by their 1999 Topps Cards.


Bonds would get my vote even if he played with a needle sticking out of his arm as he came to the plate. You might not like him. You might not like PEDs and that is your right to not support him. I believe he is one of the 5 best offensive players in baseball history and was already a Hall of Famer before he bulked up.


Like Bonds, is an all time great who was a Hall of Famer before he ballooned up. Like Bonds has been his own worst enemy in terms of winning the fans and press over to his side. He was one of the greatest I ever saw and pitched at a super high level for a generation and then some. It wasn’t ALL PEDs.


An MVP with the bat and his monster arm, Vlad delivered monster power numbers in three different decades and being an all around dominating force in Montreal. He won the MVP in Anaheim and helped the Angels and Rangers in post season runs.


The Designated Hitter is a spot in the lineup. As long as that is the case, players who were primarily DH’s should be eligible for the Hall of Fame. The ones that get in should be extraordinary, like Edgar Martinez. The best right handed hitter of his time, he posted a higher career OPS than Hank Aaron all the while posting eye popping numbers year in an year out.


As steady an ace as there was in his era, Mussina won big year after year in the powerful AL East. Forget his relatively high ERA. He was in the middle of the roids era and still bringing the goods, right up until his final year, a 20 win season.


It took a decade for people to realize that Rock was one of the best players of his era. His greatest sin was not being as good as Rickey Henderson. Few were. Tim Raines put up Hall of Fame numbers and will hopefully have the plaque to go with it.


Am I biased because he was the 2004 World Series MVP and one of my favorite players? Sure. Did he get suspended for PEDs? Sure twice! Was he a monster at the plate and put up jaw dropping numbers along the way? Of course. Would he give the most insane speech in Cooperstown history? No doubt.


The best overall catcher I ever saw play, Pudge could throw, call a great game and hit. Granted he didn’t deserve that MVP in 1999 (that was Pedro’s!) But he did lead the Marlins to the 2003 crown with big hits in each round. PEDs? Sure. Still gets my vote.


Hey! Another 2004 Red Sox player! OK, so I won’t talk politics with him. But there is no denying his dominance in not only the post season but in the regular season as well. He didn’t win a Cy Young because he was in the same league as Greg Maddux and Randy Johnson. He was as good a big game pitcher as I have ever seen in my life. And yes, I was at the Bloody Sock game.


Hey! I am voting in a Colorado Rockie! Walker would be the first ever enshrined. Yeah, I know he played in both the Steroid Era AND in Coors Field, which makes a lot of people not consider his stats. But he also was a great player in Montreal and put up consistent MVP caliber stats year in and year out while playing great defense as well.


So yes, I want all 10 of those players in. I wish all 10 would get elected. I want a super crowded stage.

Clearly PEDs are not a huge deterrent for me. I would give Sammy Sosa some love if I had room on the ballot.

Chances are Jeff Bagwell and Trevor Hoffman are getting in. You could convince me of Bagwell and you could convince me of Gary Sheffield. Maybe they will be on the ballot next year. I am not a big Trevor Hoffman guy. Specialists can’t wet the bed in the big game as often as Hoffman did. Same goes for Lee Smith. Billy Wagner has a more compelling case than them. I hope he stays on the ballot.

I always felt Jeff Kent was overrated, Fred McGriff falls just short. Meanwhile 2004 Red Sox Jason Varitek, Tim Wakefield and Orlando Cabrera will be one and done.

So let’s see what happens tomorrow.

My prediction?

I predict that Tim Raines, Jeff Bagwell and Trevor Hoffman will be elected. While Bagwell and Hoffman were not on MY ballot, I will not protest. There are other things to get mad at in this world. Nobody will ever be elected who had a bad career.