Mad Dog has his day: Former Dodger Greg Maddux inducted into Hall of Fame.

Greg Maddux

Greg Maddux pitched 23 games, regular and postseason, in separate stints with the Dodgers in 2006 and 2008. (Getty Images)

Ned Colletti is the only general manager who’s traded for Greg Maddux, and he did it twice: Once in 2006 and again in 2008. Colletti can take partial credit for the fact that Maddux finished his career as a Dodger — and he did Wednesday, when Maddux was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

“One of my all-time favorites,” Colletti said of Maddux. “One of the best I’ve ever been around.”

Maddux was the leading vote-getter on the 2014 ballot, with 555 votes of the 571 ballots cast by senior members of the BBWAA. That represented 97.2 percent of the vote, the eighth-highest percentage ever since the first Hall ballots were cast in 1936.

Maddux will be joined in Cooperstown by Tom Glavine, who received 525 votes (91.9 percent), and Frank Thomas, who received 478 (83.7).
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Daily Distractions: With Hall of Fame ballots due tonight, will Don Mattingly remain eligible?

Don Mattingly

Dodgers manager Don Mattingly batted .307 in 14 major-league seasons and won nine Gold Glove awards at first base. (Getty Images)

Baseball Hall of Fame ballots are due tonight. As we’ve previously noted, former Dodgers Hideo Nomo, Eric Gagne, Jeff Kent, Luis Gonzalez, Greg Maddux and Paul Lo Duca are all on the ballot for the first time. Manager Don Mattingly, hitting coach Mark McGwire and former catcher Mike Piazza are still hanging on.

Many ballots have already been released publicly and the folks at BaseballThinkFactory.org (among others) are keeping tabs on all of them. Remember, a player needs to appear on 75 percent of ballots to be inducted to the Hall, and 5 percent of ballots to remain eligible (for up to 15 years).

While Nomo, Gagne, Lo Duca and Gonzalez have no chance of induction in this or any year, the same can’t be said for the others. Mattingly debuted on the ballot in 2001 and appeared on 28.2 percent of the ballots in his first year. He’s had an interesting journey since, garnering votes from 9.9 percent of the electorate in 2007 then rebounding to 17.8 percent in 2012.

But a 2014 Hall class featuring several statistically qualified candidates (including Maddux, Frank Thomas and holdover Craig Biggio) could count Mattingly among its victims. BaseballThinkFactory.org has Mattingly listed on 4.6 percent of the 87 full ballots to be revealed so far. McGwire (11.5) and Kent (12.6) are teetering toward extinction, while Piazza (73.6) is teetering toward induction.

Maddux has been listed on every ballot so far. No player has been a unanimous selection in the Hall’s history.

Mattingly — and McGwire, for that matter — doesn’t expect to be elected. If he falls off the ballot, it might amount to nothing more than a brief spring-training conversation topic.

Some bullet points for a New Year’s Eve:
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Daily Distractions: The Dodgers are the new Lakers.

A couple weeks ago, I received an official voter’s ballot for a trivial contest. There were 10 slots to fill.

And no, I’m not talking about the Baseball Hall of Fame.

This was the annual Los Angeles News Group Top 10 Sports Stories of the Year ballot. All the stories we considered involved people and teams who hailed from, or competed in, the greater Los Angeles/Orange County/Inland Empire area. The number-one story on my ballot didn’t involve an athlete, let alone anyone connected to baseball. It was about Jerry Buss, whose death in February took up four of five columns on the front page of that day’s Daily News:

I was surprised to see my colleagues disagreed. The Dodgers’ tumultuous “return to glory” captured their hearts. The sample size of our staff writers may be smallish, but what do I know? L.A. likes a winner.

Then we chose Yasiel Puig as the Los Angeles Sports Person of the Year.

Then Ken Gurnick of MLB.com broke down the Dodgers’ season in 874 words and it didn’t seem like enough.

Then Puig was arrested. (Again.)

Then David Vassegh of KLAC (570-AM) tweeted this:

And suddenly, the Dodgers had become the Lakers.

Debate it all you want, but it seems the tides of buzz and drama and relevance have turned in the Dodgers’ favor. If there’s room for two teams in the public consciousness — as Magic Johnson said roughly one year ago — the Lakers aren’t taking advantage of it right now. The Dodgers are.

Some bullet points for a Monday morning:
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Daily Distractions: Nomo, Gagne, Lo Duca, Gonzalez, Kent, Maddux join Mattingly, McGwire on HOF ballot.

Mark McGwire

Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire is listed on the Hall of Fame ballot for the seventh time. (Associated Press photo)

The 2014 Hall of Fame ballot was announced today, and the window for eligibility has struck the Dodgers square in the 2000s. Hideo Nomo, Eric Gagne, Jeff Kent, Luis Gonzalez, Greg Maddux and Paul Lo Duca are all on the ballot for the first time.

They join Dodgers manager Don Mattingly, hitting coach Mark McGwire, former catcher Mike Piazza and several other holdovers on a crowded field. Only 10 players can be listed on a ballot. Voting results will be announced at 11 a.m. on Jan. 8, 2014, on MLB Network and the web sites of the Hall of Fame and the BBWAA.

Nomo was the National League Rookie of the Year in 1995 and no-hit the Colorado Rockies the following season at Coors Field. Gagne saved 161 games from 1999 to 2006 after converting to a reliever, including a record 84 in a row. Kent hit 75 home runs in a Dodgers uniform from 2005-08, finishing his career with 377 — 351 as a second baseman, an all-time record. Maddux made 19 starts as a Dodger in the twilight of a career that included 355 wins, eighth on baseball’s all-time list.

Lo Duca played seven of his 11 major-league seasons with the Dodgers, while Gonzalez spent one season (2007) in Los Angeles and was benched at midseason to make room for Matt Kemp.

Gagne and Lo Duca were both identified in the Mitchell Report as having been connected to performance-enhancing drug use. Their career numbers alone are enough to keep them out of the Hall, but the PED issue has proven impossible to overcome for even some of the best players on the ballot — McGwire, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro, Sammy Sosa and possibly Piazza. They’ll need to be named on at least 5 percent of all ballots to remain eligible.

McGwire (listed on 16.9 percent of ballots last year) and Mattingly (13.2) are closer to 5 percent than the 75 percent needed for induction. Players can remain on the ballot for 15 years after their retirement, and this will be Mattingly’s 14th appearance.

MLB.com has Hall of Fame profiles on several of the top Hall candidates, including Mattingly, McGwire, Piazza and Kent.

Some bullet points for a Mongolian Independence Day:
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Mark McGwire reflects on Musial, Hall of Fame vote.

Mark McGwireHere’s the long transcript of my chat with hitting coach Mark McGwire at the Dodgers’ FanFest on Saturday. I was interested in his reaction to two events in a 10-day span earlier this month – the Hall of Fame election on Jan. 9 and the death of Stan Musial on Jan. 19.

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Daily Distractions: Dodgers sign Jesus Flores, Clayton Kershaw update, Vicente Padilla to Japan.

Jesus Flores is 28 years old and has caught 263 major-league games. Jesus  FloresThat makes him younger and more experienced than the Dodgers’ starter, A.J. Ellis.

The Washington Nationals granted Flores free agency in November and the Dodgers signed him to a minor-league contract with an invitation to spring training on Tuesday.

Flores figures to compete with Tim Federowicz for the backup job. Considering Federowicz’s lack of experience (10 major-league games), it could make for an interesting competition.

Flores’ career batting numbers aren’t much to look at, though he did hit eight home runs and drive in 59 in only 90 games in 2008. The Venezuela native batted .301 in 2009, when surgery to repair a stress fracture in his right shoulder limited his season to 29 games. Flores hasn’t been the same since.

He didn’t play at all in 2010 and worried whether his career was over. He came back to play 30 games in 2011 and 83 last season, all in a backup role for the Nationals. His slash line since the surgery: .212/.249/.325. Even Flores’ defense seems to have suffered; since the surgery he’s thrown out only 13 of 67 attempted base stealers – 19.4 percent.

Flores is currently playing for Navegantes del Magallanes of the Venezuelan Winter League.

Some afternoon links:

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Daily Distractions: How long does it take to rebuild a farm system?

Baseball America is expected to bestow the St. Louis Cardinals with the mantle of Best System in Baseball, eight years after BA had St. Louis ranked dead-last, 30th among the 30 teams. (BA doesn’t typically announce its rankings until late March/early April, but that article explains what to expect and why.)

Folks who spend more time thinking about prospects than major-league players — you know who you are – tend to forget that organizational rankings are nothing more than opinion polls. Titles such as “top organizational prospect” are opinions, not facts.

But I think there’s some significance to the Cardinals’ turnaround to the Dodgers, who ranked sixth, 23rd, 21st, 11th and 24th the last five years (in order) in BA’s annual list. Last March, BA wrote: “If OF Alfredo Silverio hadn’t had a breakout season in 2011, it would be hard to pinpoint a Los Angeles position prospect with much upside—and he could miss the first two months of the season after an offseason auto accident. [Frank] McCourt hasn’t spent on the draft or the international market, severely weakening the system.”

Guggenheim Baseball Management has spent liberally on the major-league product, but team president Stan Kasten has gone out of his way to state the importance of rebuilding the Dodgers’ farm system. That can’t be done overnight, but how long will it take? Eight years might be reasonable in an age of international signing restrictions and draft restrictions that favor lower-revenue teams.

That’s a topic for a longer story on a different day, but definitely good food for thought.

Some links to start your work week:

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Daily Distractions: Minor-league invitees, HGH testing, Marcus Thames, coffee.

Yesterday, a Dodgers spokesperson emailed to pass along three new names of players signed to minor-league contracts with invitations to major-league camp: Right-handed pitcher Matt Palmer, catcher Elizier Alfonzo and infielder Brian Barden.

The Dodgers have also invited RHP Juan Abreu, LHP Kelvin De La Cruz, RHP Greg Infante, C Wilkin Castillo, C Ramon Castro, INF Alfredo Amezaga, INF Brian Barden, INF Omar Luna, INF Ozzie Martinez, INF Dallas McPherson, INF/OF Nick Evans and OF Jeremy Moore.

Teams can invite as many non-roster players as they want to spring training but must trim their major-league roster to 25 by opening day, April 1.

Some more distractions …
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Daily Distractions: New Dodgers Dream Foundation field; 184-year-old baseball card; A Yu Darvish museum?

Aaron Sele

Aaron Sele’s career numbers as a Dodger: 28 games, 15 starts, 8-6 record, 4.53 ERA. More Hall of Fame votes than Roberto Hernandez (0-2, 6.64 as a Dodger). Makes sense to me. (AP)

Usually I dish out distractions in the morning. Unfortunately before noon today I was way too distracted by the guy (or gal) who gave a Hall of Fame vote to Aaron Sele.

The Dodgers Dream Foundation, in partnership with the LA84 Foundation and the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks, announced that they will dedicate a new Dodgers Dreamfield in Reseda Park Saturday. The field is located at 18411 Victory Blvd, Los Angeles and the dedication will begin at 10 a.m. Dodgers prospects Joc Pederson, Onelki Garcia and Matt Magill will be there, along with team president Stan Kasten, broadcaster Charley Steiner and alumni Al “The Bull” Ferrara, Lee Lacy, Ramon Martinez, Fernando Valenzuela and Steve Yeager.

This will be the 24th “Dreamfield” the team has dedicated since 1998.

On to the links …

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Hall of Fame vote fizzles: No one elected for the first time since 1996.

The Baseball Hall of Fame induction ceremony in July will feature an empty podium.

No players listed on this year’s ballot got the necessary 75 percent of votes from the Baseball Writers Association of America. Craig Biggio led the way with 68.2 percent, followed by Jack Morris at 67.7 percent and Jeff Bagwell at 59.6. It’s the first year no players will be enshrined since 1996.

Former Dodgers catcher Mike Piazza was fourth, listed on 57.8 percent of all 569 ballots. Dodgers manager Don Mattingly received 13.2 percent of votes, down from the 17.8 percent he received last year. Support for hitting coach Mark McGwire also dropped, from 19.5 percent in 2012 to 16.9 percent this year.

Two former Dodgers, Kenny Lofton (3.2 percent) and Shawn Green (0.4), did not receive the necessary 5 percent of votes to remain on the ballot. Both were listed on the ballot for the first time.

Some other notable names who fell short: Barry Bonds (36.2 percent), Roger Clemens (37.6), Sammy Sosa (12.5), Fred McGriff (20.7).

The complete results, courtesy of the BBWAA:
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