There is no denying the fact that fans of professional wrestling exist in tremendously large number. They sell out arenas around the country, fill up 90,000-seat stadiums for Wrestlemania, and spend millions of dollars on merchandise, pay-per-view television events, toys, replica title belts, etc.
Those of you who identify as members of the WWE Universe will understand my headline and the accompanying video below highlighting the response of the Baseball Writers Association of America collective which was revealed today.
Players from all over the baseball landscape were up for consideration this year. Steroid users (admitted and suspected alike), presumed “clean” players, long career stat compilers, misunderstood marvels, one tool, five tool…the list goes on.
So let’s run down the names and tell you who was announced today as having been elected. For responses, I call upon WWE Superstar Daniel Bryan, one half of the tag team named “Team Hell No”. (Thanks to Daniel for his unknowing participation.)
So, Daniel, thanks for being here. Let’s start off with the BBWAA’s vote on Barry Bonds? Roger Clemens? Mike Piazza? Jeff Bagwell? Tim Raines? Edgar Martinez? Jack Morris? Craig Biggio? Alan Trammell?
Okay… How about Royce Clayton? Kenny Lofton? Larry Walker? Lee Smith? Curt Schilling? Dale Murphy? Fred McGriff? Sammy Sosa? Jeff Cirillo?
…Really? Thoughts on Rafael Palmeiro? David Wells? Bernie Williams? Don Mattingly? Steve Finley? Shawn Green? Jeff Conine? Ryan Klesko? Jose Mesa?
If you please…
You’re tough, and very passionate. Um…what about Reggie Sanders? Mike Stanton? Rondell White? Woody Williams? Todd Walker? Roberto Hernandez? Julio Franco?
Wait…somebody actually voted for Aaron Sele? Somebody knowingly cast a ballot containing demarcation next to the box indicating that they felt Aaron Sele was deserving of enshrinement in the Baseball Hall of Fame?
I can’t even…
Anyway, that’s right. The BBWAA pitched a shutout this year for the first time since 1996, the second time since 1972 and only the eighth time in their history.
And I know you all have your opinions (looky there, a comments section) about who should be in the Hall of Fame and why people to disagree with you are dumb, but the point of this fun little exercise is to point out a major problem that currently exist with the voting process itself.
The largest issue that’s going rear its ugly head over the next couple of years at least is the bloated list of names up for consideration. The Hall of Fame currently only lets a voter choose a maximum of 10 names on a given year’s ballot. Many people felt that there were more than 10 worthy names on the list this year but were limited in who they could name. (This likely caused some players — Kenny Lofton, anybody? — to prematurely fall off the ballot because if you ever appear on fewer than 5% of the ballots submitted, you are not considered for enshrinement again by the BBWAA membership. Otherwise, you can remain on the ballot for up to 15 tries.)
Nobody got elected.
Next year you’re adding in another four top-flight names for consideration. If you already want to vote in 10 or more and now have others to consider, you simply can’t currently vote for all of them. Someone you think is worthy of Hall of Fame enshrinement won’t receive your vote. Enough people do the same and that player falls off the ballot when perhaps in a few years they’d get more consideration with a thinned out ballot.
Again, we can debate worthiness and authenticity and what they do/should mean to the Hall of Fame as a collection of baseball history and memorabilia, but when worthy players don’t have a fair chance to be considered do to a voting limit? That’s dumb.
It needs to be fixed, doesn’t it Daniel?
(*Note, this last video is 10 minutes long and starts repeating the same clip fairly quickly. You get the idea. Don’t watch the whole thing.)
In other, more serious news, there were three former Brewers on the ballot in 2013. They are Jeff Cirillo, Royce Clayton, and Julio Franco. Only Franco received any votes at all, garnering six. None of the three will appear on future ballots.
Today is February 28th. Opening Day is April 6th. In 75 percent of years, this would make Opening Day 37 days hence. That would mean that I would be profiling Mark Rogers today.
But this year, we are in the 25 percent. This year is a leap year which, of course, means that an extra day is added to the calendar because of the earth’s trip around the sun actually being 365¼ days. This year, February 29th exists as a thing.
To summarize, today is 38 days away from Opening Day 2012 and we therefore profile the third member of the projected pitching rotation for the Milwaukee Brewers:
Christopher Gregg Narveson is a 30-year-old southpaw originally from Englewood, Colorado. He bats and throws left-handed and stands atop the pitching mound with a 6’3”, 205 pound frame casting a shadow onto the dirt beneath his feet.
Originally drafted in 2000 out of T.C. Robertson High School by the St. Louis Cardinals, Narveson was coming off of back-to-back undefeated seasons as a junior and senior when he went 22-0.
In the offseason following the 2001 season, Narveson had Tommy John surgery on his pitching arm. He pitched well following his return but was traded to the Colorado Rockies organization in 2004 as a “Player To Be Named Later” in the deal which sent Larry Walker to the Gateway City.
2005 led to Narveson being traded from Colorado’s organization to Boston’s, and a later waiving by the Red Sox resulted in Narveson being claimed by his original team, the Cardinals.
Narveson made his Major League debut as a September call up in 2006. After the 2007 season, Narveson became a minor-league free agent and, after pitching in the Mexican Pacific League, signed as a free agent with the Brewers on December 4th.
Normally I don’t spend as much time on a player’s entire path to Milwaukee, but many people seem to think that Narveson spent his entire career in the Cardinals system before coming to the Brewers, and being as that isn’t the case, I wanted to highlight it for you for educational purposes.
Narveson spent 2008 in Triple-A with the Nashville Sounds and made his Brewers debut in 2009. He made the Opening Day roster in 2010 and after starting in the bullpen ended up making 28 starts. In 2011 he was a starting pitcher for nearly the entire season, except a short stretch in September when the team was trying to ready themselves for a playoff rotation.
Last season saw an 11-8 record in 28 starts from Ron Roenicke’s 5th starter. He spent one abbreviated stint on the DL after accidentally lacerating the thumb on his pitching hand while attempting to repair his glove with a pair of scissors.
In all, Narveson threw 161.2 innings, allowing 160 hits, 65 walks (1.39 WHIP), 82 runs (80 of them earned), 17 home runs, and held opponents to a .258 batting average while striking out 126 batters. Not bad numbers at all from a fifth starter, one whom many cite among the best 5-men in the game.
Not one to rest on any laurels, Narveson is looking to improve his game this spring by working on a new pitch. After seeing how fellow lefty Randy Wolf had success implementing a cut fastball in 2011, Narveson hopes to add the weapon to his arsenal for 2012.
That would potentially add a fifth pitch to the Narv-Dog’s collection, assuming he would continue to throw a slider. (Many pitchers that throw one don’t bother with the other.) Then again, Narveson’s percentage of sliders to his overall pitch total was only 5.9 in 2011 anyway.
Regardless, Narveson does take the bump armed with a four-seam fastball, curveball and changeup as well. His fastball averages 87.8 MPH in 2011, the curve 73.2 MPH with fair break, and his straight changeup clocked an average of 80.4 MPH. Sliders thrown by Narveson last year were delivered on average at 82.7 MPH.
(Possibly adding a new pitch isn’t the only thing that Narveson is toying with this Spring. He also recently joined the Brewers Twitterverse under the handle @sleep_trick. Give him a follow and interact.)
The best thing that can be said about the outlook of the rotation in 2012 is that it is the same rotation that started in 92 of the team-record 96 wins in 2011. Narveson was a key part of that group and looks like a good bet to improve on some of his supporting numbers.
As for the win total and ERA (4.45, for the record)? A better bullpen and better defense backing him up tend to positively influence both of those somewhat uncontrollable markers.
Step one would be to improve on his average of 5.2 innings pitched per start. Getting through the sixth inning will be one major factor in increasing his rate of return.
Bottom line: While the Brewers fortunes as a ballclub hardly rest on the arm of Chris Narveson, any positive contribution isn’t simply gravy because he’s the fifth starter. His role is important, his starts are important, and his results are important.
Nobody is expecting nor asking him to be Yovani Gallardo or Zack Greinke. Being Chris Narveson is all that’s required.
It is fortunate for the Brewers, though, that right now Chris Narveson is good enough.