The Baseball Hall Of Fame Vote Is Here And Trust Me, You Do Not Want To Miss This One

The Baseball Hall Of Fame Vote Is Here And Trust Me, You Do Not Want To Miss This One

Who's getting the call to Cooperstown and how do they get there?

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Every year, the Baseball Writers' Association of America, often abbreviated to BBWAA, votes on a slate of candidates who played in Major League Baseball, and the winners of the vote are inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame, located in Cooperstown, New York, the often-rumored birthplace of modern baseball. How does the BBWAA vote work exactly? Well, that's a pretty complicated answer, but I'll do my best to answer it.

The Baseball Writers' Association of America is, well, pretty self-explanatory. It is a body of over 700 baseball writers, generally concentrated in the 26 cities across the USA with Major League Baseball teams. To be eligible to vote, you have to have been either an active or honorary member for over 10 years, as well as have been an active baseball writer for the 10 years leading up to the date of the vote.

Every member that is eligible receives a ballot with all of the names of the eligible candidates for that year to vote for, and, out of those candidates, they may select as few as none and as many as 10, with no explanation needed for any vote. They must, however, return the ballots by mail, and should they not be postmarked by a certain date, the ballot will not be accepted and that writer's vote would essentially be blank. Any candidate that appears on 75% of the ballots or more shall be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

To be eligible for the Hall of Fame, one must have played Major League Baseball for a minimum of 10 years and must have been retired or have not appeared in a game for at least five years. On top of that, once you are eligible, you only have 10 years to be voted in or else you will no longer be eligible. However, you can fall off the ballot even earlier because of a rule stating that any candidate that receives less than 5% of the overall vote shall no longer be eligible for the Hall of Fame.

Other than those qualifications, there are a few exceptions, namely for people who had an impact on the game's landscape, like owners or managers, umpires, etc. People who fell off the ballot can be saved, however, since the adoption of 16-man committees that focus on certain periods of baseball history so that they can be better represented in the Hall of Fame and past mistakes can be rectified.

It's by no means a perfect system, and, normally, everyone is upset about their favorite player not getting in or someone they don't think deserves to get in getting in. This has particularly become an issue in recent years as baseball has been coming to terms with the steroids scandals that rocked it in the 1990s and the 2000s.

Players such as Barry Bonds, Mark McGuire, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens, and Alex Rodriguez, all of which except McGuire and A-Rod are eligible for the Hall of Fame, have numbers that should make them easy fits in the Hall of Fame. However, all of their careers were tainted by either rumors of PEDs (performance-enhancing drugs) or they were caught/admitted to using them. There has been an argument for many years in the baseball world as to whether or not these players deserve inclusion in the Hall.

Barry Bonds holds the records for most career home runs and most home runs in a single season, yet he has failed to get more than 60% of the vote in the several years he's been eligible. Andy Pettite, the longtime Yankees ace and member of the Core Four of the late 90s-early 2010s is the only player in MLB history to have started games for 10 or more years and have had a winning record in every season he pitched, yet many say he is expected to fall off the ballot this year, his first year of eligibility.

Personally, I feel that using PEDs gave you an unfair advantage over other players, so if there is evidence to suggest you cheated, you aren't getting my vote. Many of the older members of the BBWAA agree with me, but as the organization grows younger, including many writers who grew up watching the annual homerun race between McGuire and Sosa, then saw Bonds shatter every homerun record out there, they aren't as adverse to PEDs. Now, both sides have excellent arguments, and both have poor arguments, but overall, I personally side with keeping those guys out of the Hall of Fame. You can disagree with me, but I won't have those guys on my ballot down below.

Onto this year's ballot, where there are some very intriguing candidates for consideration. As I said, Bonds, Clemens, and Sosa are all eligible this year, all of whom are in their seventh year out of 10 years of eligibility. Last year, Bonds and Clemens both topped 55%, whereas Sosa was just above 7%. For the past several years, both Bonds and Clemens have been steadily increasing their totals, while Sosa's has consistently gone down. If this trend continues this year, it's entirely possible that Bonds and/or Clemens top 60% or even 65%, while Sosa falls off the ballot. That's by no means a guarantee, but, based on my analysis of the trends, is a likelihood.

Edgar Martinez is on this year's ballot, and, no matter what, this will be his last appearance. You see, last year he received 70.4% of the vote, falling only a few votes shy of induction. He's been trending up recently, so many perceive him as likely to get in this year. He better hope he does, though, seeing as this is his 10th and, therefore, final year on the ballot before he is ineligible. The only other player in his 10th year of eligibility is Fred McGriff, who last year received only 23.2% of the vote. To jump all the way to 75% would be a massive step-up and is seemingly unlikely. Unfortunately for him, it seems his time has come and he didn't make the cut, at least according to the writers.

There is no shortage of great first-year eligibility players on this ballot. Roy Halladay, the longtime starter for the Toronto Blue Jays and then the Philadelphia Phillies, is fondly remembered as one of the most unhittable pitchers of his day, holding 2 Cy Young Awards as a result. His accolades also include him having famously thrown two no-hitters in 2010, one being a perfect game and one of the last ones thrown to this point in baseball history, and the other being in the first round of the MLB Playoffs, making it only the second no-hitter ever thrown in postseason history and the first since Don Larsen's perfect game in the 1956 World Series.

There's also Todd Helton who, throughout his career with the Colorado Rockies, amassed over 2,500 career hits and an OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage) of .953, an absolutely astronomical number. There are other fantastic candidates on the ballot for the first time this year, including Roy Oswalt, Lance Berkman, Miguel Tejada, and Michael Young, but the top of the list is, undoubtedly, Mariano Rivera.

Throughout his 19-year major-league career, all of which was spent with the New York Yankees as part of that Core Four, he amassed more saves than any other player in major league history, 652. With a lifetime ERA (earned-run average per 9 innings) of 2.21 and a WHIP (walks and hits per innings pitched) of exactly 1.000, he is one of the greatest relief pitchers and arguably the best closer of all time.

Many people have, for many years now, predicted he will become the first player in the history of the Hall of Fame to be named on every single ballot, the first unanimous pick in the history of the Hall. The closest to date was Ken Griffey Jr. who, in 2015, received 99.7% of the vote, not appearing on just five ballots. Mo may be deserving of the accolade, and of the handful of ballots already made public he does appear on all of them, but we won't find out until the results are revealed on January 22.

With all of that said, I would like to show you my personal ballot (if I was an eligible voter for the BBWAA, but, hey, semantics).

Lance Berkman

Roy Halladay

Todd Helton

Edgar Martinez

Fred McGriff

Mike Mussina

Mariano Rivera

Billy Wagner

Larry Walker

As you may notice, there are only nine votes listed above. I personally felt that these nine candidates were, far and away, the most deserving of my vote and that there weren't any other candidates that deserved to be included as much as these nine. Now, I struggled with this decision immensely, as I am of the belief that if one has the power to vote one should use it to its fullest extent.

I am very much opposed to the idea of not voting for anyone and I have personally developed new voting rules that require a minimum of five votes and any number of votes less than 10 requires an explanation to be included as to why more candidates weren't selected. I also believe that there should be two spots included on the ballot where you can vote for candidates that have fallen off the ballot and, if they receive 7.5% of the vote, then they are added back next year.

Discretion aside, there were several players I toyed with including, those players being Andruw Jones, Jeff Kent, Roy Oswalt, Scott Rolen, Omar Vizquel, and Michael Young. As I said, I didn't personally feel that any of these candidates were as deserving as the least deserving of the nine I did vote for, so I only voted for those nine.

I wish my ballot would be counted, but alas, I am not a member of the BBWAA, nor would I be eligible to take part in this year's vote if I was a member. Hopefully, at least some of the voters agree with my ballot and my reasoning. I do hope that some of these candidates receive sufficient support to get in this year or, at the very least, get close to getting in. All we can do now, though, is wait.

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10 Reasons Cheerleading Is One Of The Hardest Sports In The U.S

The truth behind what actually goes into cheerleading and what us cheerleaders go through on a daily basis.
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"Cheerleading isn't a sport. No team that gets to prance around in a skirt all day could ever be considered a sport!"

"You cheerleaders do realize that you're not actually helping the football team win, right? Nobody needs you."

As someone who has consistently cheered for eight years, these are the comments that I hear from others when I openly talk about my sport and my life as an athlete. The lack of respect and recognition cheerleaders get on a daily basis is truly uncanny, and nothing breaks my heart more than meeting people who don't understand the amount of hard work, determination, commitment, money, blood, sweat, and tears that all comes along with being on a competitive cheer team.

For those of you who don't know very much about cheer and the nature of the sport, here are 10 reasons why it is considered to be one of the hardest sports in the U.S.

I believe that many will find these facts both shocking and interesting as they may want to reconsider the next time they think about ridiculing a cheerleader and planting the false ideas in their minds that what they do is in any way "not a sport."

1. You need extensive gymnastics and tumbling experience.

The majority of Cheer teams today require a certain level of tumbling ability.

Most High School Cheer teams require at least a back handspring to even be considered for a spot on the team. It is a very common thing for Gymnasts to go into Cheerleading since they can integrate lots of their Gymnastics experience into Cheer including their tumbling, jumps, and overall energy and precision.

Back handsprings, back tucks, and fulls can take years to master; sometimes even longer depending on when the athlete began.

2. Cheerleading has more reported injuries than any other sport.

You heard that right!

Not only is Cheerleading considered to be one of the hardest sports, but a recent study in the Journal of Pediatrics found that Cheerleading is the most dangerous sport for females due to the high risk of severe injuries including concussions, broken bones, permanent disabilities and paralyzation, and risk of injuries causing a shorter lifespan.

Believe me when I tell you that Cheerleading is most definitely not for the faint-hearted. Speaking from experience, nearly every practice consists of at least one person getting hurt in some shape or form. From a bloody nose, a sprained ankle, countless bruises, and black eyes, you can pretty much count on witnessing one of these injuries happening to you or one of your team-mates at some point or another.

These injuries generally happen while stunting. Bases more often than even the flyers are constantly experiencing injuries that simply don't happen nearly as often as any other sport.

Flyers, on the other hand, must deal with the risk of getting dropped on the ground (in which case most teams will make the entire team run countless miles if a flyer EVER touches the ground), getting caught and landing in extremely uncomfortable positions, or even head-butting their bases and or back spot.

Those who can recover from a fatal injury and return to Cheer with grace and integrity are the ones who sincerely deserve utmost admiration and respect among their peers. Many quit after getting hurt and realizing how dangerous of a sport cheer really is.

3. The time commitment is no joke.

Cheerleaders are supposedly considered to be what our day and age deem "popular," however, the fact of the matter is that if you are on a highly prestigious and competitive cheer team for all-star or even some High-school teams, you can practically say goodbye to any chance of a social life.

Most teams have practices at least five days a week and then have games and/or competitions on weekends. Practices generally last about two to as long as four hours, not to mention the countless hours spent at cheer camp in the summer.

4. It's a serious investment.


The cost of being on a competitive Cheer team averages out to be an outstanding balance of about $1,000 - $3,000.

This includes but is not limited to the cost of the season, the cost of competition, the cost of cheer uniforms, warm-up outfits, bows, jackets, Poms, and Cheer shoes.

Not to mention the cost of the trips to the different competitions and conferences in prestigious locations that include Disney World, Los Angeles, California, etc.

5. Competitions are simply indescribable.

You heard it here folks! Believe it or not, most Cheerleaders don't just cheer for basketball and football games as their only source of performance.

We live and breathe for our competitions and spend countless hours practicing for them to ensure a flawless routine. These events are judged extensively and even the smallest mistake made by one team-mate can bring the score of the entire team down.

These events are also very competitive in the sense that hundreds and sometimes thousands of teams nationwide come together with only one goal on their mind: take first place.

6. Strength, cardio, and conditioning are paramount.

Again you must believe me when I say that Cheer is not for the faint-hearted. I have been on about seven different competitive teams and not one of them failed to exclude the long and extraneous hours of conditioning.

This includes push-ups, sit-ups, stretches, running countless miles, etc. This prepares us for the incredible amount of endurance and cardio required for competition where we are expected to hit our jumps, dance motions, cheer, tumbling, and stunts full out and all in the three-to-seven-minute time limit.

All of this is done with immaculate facials, energy, and voice projection. imagine you are expected to run an eight-minute mile and as soon as you cross the finish line, you are then expected to yell a long cheer as loud as you can for an audience of hundreds to hear.

This is a similar feeling to those of us who are expected to run across the entire mat while avoiding hitting anyone in just a few seconds, throw perfectly timed tumbling passes, jumps, stunts, and all in such a short amount of time. There are no breaks while you are competing. One missed tumbling pass or failed stunt can result in the difference between first and last place during a competition.

It is essential to ensure that all team-mates are in tip-top shape physically before they even begin to create a routine for competition, this is also to prevent injuries.

7. Advanced stunts require insane amounts of skill to perform without serious injury.

Need I even say more? Cheerleaders perform stunts that require an extensive amount of time, patience, and overall teamwork. Although these stunts may LOOK easy, people have no idea the amount of strength and endurance these stunts actually take to make them appear this way.

Men are strongly encouraged to join cheer for this exact reason.

Often girls are not strong enough for certain stunts such as partner stunting. A flyer must learn to be perfectly balanced and tighten every muscle of their body for these types of stunts especially. A man must spend hours a day in the gym working on his upper body strength in order to be capable of tossing their flyer into their hands as high as they do.

One loose muscle or bend of the knee could leave that flyer flat on the ground.

Something that I found interesting in my experience in cheer was that a male cheerleader from CU Boulder stated:

"I initially joined cheer as a joke. I had wrestled all my life and I can honestly say that Cheerleading is by far the hardest sport that I have ever done. It is incredible how much upper body strength some of the stunts really do need. I now have cheered for over 7 years and I will never go back to anything else."

8. Dance experience overlaps all the time and is necessary at the elite level.

Although cheer dance isn't as rigorous and flexibility centered as your typical style of dance (hip-hop, ballet, lyrical, etc.) it does still require a natural dancing ability. Not everyone has the natural capability of maintaining both tight and solid motions while also integrating jumps and facials.

Cheerleaders often have full-length practices in which they critique every motion to ensure that everyone does every motion exactly the same. The team must be 100 percent uniform and synchronized to each count, and people are unaware nowadays just how long even this takes to perfect.

9. Out-of-this-world flexibility is common in a competitive cheerleader.

It's not enough to just have your splits anymore. Flyers must maintain a heel stretch, a scorpion, and immaculate balance on both right and left legs in order to perform one-legged stunts. This amount of flexibility simply doesn't happen overnight.

10. Dealing with the lack of respect is tough on anyone.

I think that all Cheerleaders can relate to this one. Although not all cheer teams are run exactly the same, one thing is still for certain. We all go through the countless hours of extraneous workouts and effort that goes into perfecting our routines and at the end of the day, we have nothing to show for it.

People in today's society don't even give us enough respect to even see us a sport, yet alone consider us as one of the hardest sports in the U.S. We have to deal with the stereotypes, the gossip, and the social standards that society puts on us and for some of us this is in addition to the drama and pressure that High School already inflicts upon us.

This is a lot of stress to put on young individuals who are still trying to find their identity and it just gets buried and spit on by those who don't even know the HALF of what we really do.

NFL Cheerleaders and the Cheerleaders you see on television don't help this image either. They are highly sexualized and give society a completely false image of what we actually stand for. This, my friends, ends today! Cheerleaders and others who do understand the vigor of the sport please share this article with your friends and help us let it be known how much time and effort really goes into everything that we do!

Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia

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Bryce Harper And Manny Machado Are In A Race To The World Series

This offseason, two of the biggest free agents in recent memory of Major League Baseball (MLB), but as time went on neither Machado or Harper had signed a blockbuster deal.

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Manny Machado and Bryce Harper are two of baseball's greatest rising stars, and fans and teams were waiting for the 2018-2019 offseason where both Machado and Harper were going to be on the free-agent market. Throughout the offseason, neither superstar had signed a contract yet, and as time got closer for players to report to Florida, and Arizona for spring training. After the two were able to sign their respective contract, now people are wondering which player will be able to win their first World Series trophy with their new team.

Throughout the MLB offseason, reporters and fans have been drooling to see what contracts two of the biggest free agents in recent memory would receive this year.

As the winter months came and went, neither Machado or Harper had a job for the 2019 MLB season, and when pitchers and catchers reported to camp, the thought actually occurred that Machado or Harper would have to be bagging groceries when it came to Opening Day. As the old saying goes, once the first domino falls, the rest come crashing down, and on February 20th, 2019 the San Diego Padres signed Manny Machado to a 10 year, $300 million deal. Eight days later the Philadelphia Phillies signed Bryce Harper to a 13 year $330 million deal. Both Machado and Harper had opportunities to win with their previous teams, neither was able to hoist the Commissioner's Trophy.

While the Padres are "a few years away" from contending to win, we saw this year where the Atlanta Braves were able to expedite the process by bringing farm talent to the big leagues. The Phillies, on the other hand, are in a win now scenario, with stars like Rhys Hoskins, Aaron Nola, and Jake Arrieta, they have the chance to contend for the NL East and possibly a World Series title.

So, which star will be the first to get their rings fitted?

Bryce Harper, while Machado is an incredible player, he will have to go through the Colorado Rockies, which just extend future Hall of Famer Nolan Arenado and the Los Angeles Dodgers who will always contend for World Series titles. Harper, on the other hand, is going to a team that was one piece away from taking the division home a year ago, while it looks like Harper's former team the Washington Nationals will rebound after a mediocre year in their standards, and the aforementioned Atlanta Braves are the reigning division champs.

If the Phillies can get star pitcher Jake Arrieta back to CY Young form, and with the addition of veteran outfielder Andrew McCutchen, the Phillies are in a great scenario to win the World Series for the first time since 2008.

While by no means is the contract Harper got favorable to the Phillies, they knew that Harper was the missing piece to win the World Series. Also, I'm not saying Machado and the Padres aren't going to contend for World Series in the future, just not as soon as the Phillies are. Now, if the Padres can pick up a star pitcher to have a stranglehold on their rotation *cough, cough Dallas Keuchel* then possibly they can contend for World Series in 2-3 years. But, as everything stands right now the Philadelphia Phillies, along with Bryce Harper are on their way to win a World Series before the San Diego Padres with Manny Machado.

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