Ten Hall of Fame questions with IBWAA founder Howard Cole.

Pedro Martinez

Pedro Martinez is on both the BBWAA and IBWAA Hall of Fame ballots for the first time. (Getty Images)

Tomorrow is the big day for the Hall of Fame class of 2015, as the Baseball Writers’ Association of America will announce its election results at 11 a.m. on MLB Network.

A candidate must be named on 75 percent of ballots to gain induction, as usual. Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Mike Piazza, John Smoltz, Craig Biggio, Jeff Bagwell, Tim Raines are the most prominent names in the spotlight this year. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly is on the ballot for the final time as a player. Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire, remarkably, might be on the ballot for the final time as well if he isn’t named on 5 percent of the ballots.

The website BaseballThinkFactory.com is tabulating the results of BBWAA votes as they are made public on the internet. Not all votes will be made public on the internet.

I did not receive a BBWAA ballot, since I don’t have the necessary 10 years’ experience required to vote in the Hall of Fame election.

I did, however, cast a ballot in the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America Hall of Fame election. Those results will also be announced tomorrow. The IBWAA, founded in 2009, has several members (like myself) who belong to the BBWAA as well. A few even cast ballots in both Hall of Fame elections.

Continue reading

MLB announces start times for Games 1 and 2 of NLDS.

MLB has announced the start times for the first two games of the National League Division Series at Dodger Stadium.

Game 1 will be at 3:37 p.m. Friday, televised on Fox Sports 1. Game 2 will be at 6:37 p.m. Saturday, televised on MLB Network.

Neither game will be blacked out in SportsNet LA markets.

The start times for Games 3, 4 and 5 have yet to be announced.

Update (3:27 p.m.) The Dodgers announced that Vin Scully will call the first three and last three innings of each playoff game, home and away. Charley Steiner and Rick Monday will call the middle three innings on radio, the same arrangement as the 2013 postseason.

Bob Costas, Harold Reynolds, Tom Verducci and Ken Rosenthal are on the call for Game 2.

Vin Scully has a Babe Ruth story. Yes, they met once.

It’s not often that we get to see Chris Perez warm up on the mound anymore. He’s only pitched twice in September, so get a good look at this video.

As you watch closely, Vin Scully tells a story about meeting someone when he was 13 years old. Some lady named … Ruth. Baby Ruth.

Daily Distractions: Alexander Guerrero’s short practice window opens now.

Alex Guerrero

Alex Guerrero said he already feels comfortable playing second base. (Associated Press photo)

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Different players have told me on different occasions that only pitchers and catchers need a good four weeks-plus of spring training. Hitters don’t need nearly as much time to prepare for a season — maybe a week or two, as a general rule, if they’re in shape.

There are exceptions to the rule. Alex Guerrero is one.

Guerrero only played 12 games in the Dominican Winter League because of a nagging hamstring injury. That’s simply not enough games to expect the 27-year-old to transform into the Dodgers’ Opening Day second baseman after playing shortstop his entire career. Even Superman doesn’t change capes that fast.

Guerrero will take the field today as the Dodgers’ starting second baseman against the Arizona Diamondbacks, the first Cactus League game for both clubs. (Most other clubs begin playing games no sooner than Friday, since most clubs don’t start the season in the Southern Hemisphere.) Second base is the only Opening Day position remotely up for grabs — unless you count the starting pitcher — so it will be a primary focus on the field, starting today.

In an intrasquad game Sunday, Guerrero flawlessly charged a ground ball, picked it up on the run, and threw across his body to retire the runner at first base. He looked like a second baseman. If Guerrero looks that smooth in today’s game, it will be in large part because of the four lonely weeks he spent fielding ground balls at Camelback Ranch before pitchers and catchers reported to spring training.

“I’ve practiced enough that it comes naturally to me,” Guerrero said through an interpreter. “Training’s always going to be different than the game, but I feel comfortable.”

The Dodgers have 19 days’ worth of games — 21 in all — before leaving for Australia. Guerrero said it will be “very important” for him to see game action over the next three weeks at second base. But it’s not as if he’s picking up where he left off Dec. 12, his final Dominican Winter League game.

After receiving his United States work visa and entering the country on Jan. 13, Guerrero came to Camelback Ranch and got to work.

“I feel so much more comfortable at second now … than I did in the Dominican,” he said. “I feel like it’s natural to me now.”

Some bullet points for a National Pistachio Day:
Continue reading

Vin Scully honored at Southern California Sports Broadcasters awards luncheon.

Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully was named the Chick Hearn Radio Play-By-Play award winner for the 16th time at the Southern California Sports Broadcasters awards luncheon Monday.

Scully also won the SCSB Best Television Play-By-Play Announcer award for the 12th time. The 86-year-old has been part of the Dodgers’ broadcast team since 1950. Scully will broadcast all Dodgers games in California and Arizona in 2014.

The 2013 Special Achievement Award was bestowed upon Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw. In November, Kershaw won the Branch Rickey Award from the Rotary Club of Denver for his off-field humanitarian work, and the National League Cy Young award for his pitching exploits.

Earlier this month, Kershaw signed  a seven-year, $215 million contract, the largest ever given a pitcher.