It’s a two-for-one special today at Viva El Birdos! I had two topics that I wanted to cover in this week’s post but neither of them required very many words. Instead, they are great opportunities to post a bunch of video!
So, that’s what you get today. A mega-collection of videos from the two big news items of the week. Starting with a human highlight reel at third base and the Cardinals’ newest Hall of Famer!
Scott Rolen Elected to the Hall of Fame
On Tuesday night Scott Rolen was elected to the Hall of Fame! Thank the good Lord in the high heavens above (if you’re so inclined) the BBWAA got this one right. Finally. Despite the sheer blinding idiocy of too many of their voting members.
One of the best third basemen of a generation is off to Cooperstown.— MLB (@MLB) January 24, 2023
Scott Rolen is a Hall of Famer! pic.twitter.com/gOb58woH48
One of the greatest 3B of all-time!— St. Louis Cardinals (@Cardinals) January 24, 2023
Scott Rolen has been elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. pic.twitter.com/dWG1KddzoQ
The final tally was one of the closest ballots in Hall of Fame history. Rolen was elected by just 5 votes. Todd Helton missed election by just 11 votes. He’ll have his time next year, deserved or not.
Here are the final voting totals:
I’ve written about Rolen and made my case for his election no less than half a dozen times over the last few years. You don’t need me to convince you of his deservedness. Instead, let’s celebrate by remembering just how great Rolen really was! And he was great.
On to the highlight videos!
Insane defensive plays. Countless clutch hits. Scott Rolen’s Hall of Fame career had it all. pic.twitter.com/5VsKlDQn73— MLB (@MLB) January 24, 2023
Here’s a collection of highlights from Scott Rolen with the Phillies:
For those of you who aren’t old enough to have watched Rolen in his prime, take note in these highlights of how well Rolen moved laterally. He was exceptional going toward the line to his right, with amazing body control even when diving and playing the ball off the ground. He also had incredible range moving to the left, frequently stealing balls from the shortstop. He combined all of that with very soft hands for a man his size. Plus, he had an incredibly strong and accurate arm.
Simply put, Rolen was amazing. He was the complete package. He was (and is) the best defensive third baseman that I’ve routinely watched. Yes, better than Arenado. That’s no slight to the current best defensive third baseman of his generation. (Apologies to Adrian Beltre, who I just didn’t get to watch as much as Rolen and Arenado. He has the stats to make me believe he belongs in the conversation. He will also make the Hall.)
Of course, not only could Rolen defend, but he could also hit. REALLY hit. There are a lot of home runs in these highlights because that’s the kind of thing that shows up in these types of videos. But hitting home runs wasn’t Rolen’s core offensive skill. He could drive the ball to all fields with velocity and frequently some of those hard-hit balls left the ballpark. He had his share of moonshots, but it was scorching line drives that marked his batting prowess. (That’s one of the reasons I’ve always compared him more to George Brett than to Mike Schmidt. There was never any doubt that a hitter who was nearly as good as George Brett with a glove that was just as good as Brooks Robinson belonged in the Hall. I mean, seriously folks. Why did this take so long?)
On to the Cardinals highlights!
Rolen also had one of the fastest home run trots of anyone in baseball. Hit it. Get around the bases. Get back to the dugout. That was Rolen. He epitomized the no-nonsense baseball player. I’m not sure why he couldn’t garner more support from the old-school baseball traditionalists among the voters. He should have been a dream player for them.
Yet, it was the modern analytics writers who really drove him to election. Good for them.
Here are his first and last homers, plus some postseason highlights!
From all of us here at Viva El Birdos, Congratulations Scott Rolen! We look forward to seeing that number 27 emblazoned on the outfield wall.
Chip Caray is the Cardinals’ New TV Play-By-Play Voice
By now you’ve probably heard the news that Chip Caray, grandson of the legendary Harry Caray and son of broadcaster Skip Carey, is taking over as the lead play-by-play voice for Bally Sports Midwest and the Cardinals’ TV broadcast, replacing Dan McLaughlin.
Caray has had a long career in broadcasting. You’ve probably heard him before here and there. Because of that, a lot of people seem to have opinions about him. I’ve heard both good and bad reports.
Look, I’m no expert in broadcasting – as you can tell from our podcast – so I’ll spare you from trying to break down his strengths and weaknesses. There is no wPBP+ or Avg. Mic Angle stat over at broadcastersavant.mlb.com. If there’s an Announcergraphs.com site out there, I couldn’t find it.
I did watch a few YouTube videos posted on Twitter, so I wanted “the other guy”, who was reportedly Mariner’s PBP voice Aaron Goldsmith. But the Cards could have done a lot worse than Chip.
Really, they could have. Bally is facing potential bankruptcy and has cut corners on costs in recent years, to the noticeable detriment of their broadcasts. I mean… our VEB podcasts have better webcam video quality than Bally’s Rick Ankiel and I’m pretty sure most of our team just props our phones up with a book.
Chip Carey will be fine. Good even. Hopefully, he’ll build chemistry quickly with Brad Thompson, who looks to be in the booth a lot more often this summer.
That’s ultimately where I land on this one. We could have done a lot worse than a booth with Chip Caray and Brad Thompson most nights. And we have in the past.
To give you a little taste of what life might be like post-McLaughlin, I searched MLB’s video archives for a sample of Chip Caray’s calls from last season. Here you’ll have mostly big moments, like when the Braves clinched the NL East, plus a selection of homerun and strikeout calls.
If you’re looking for how Caray will do during a Helitech Rain Delay, I can’t help you there. But you can just plug “Paul Goldschmidt” in for Matt Olson. Or “Nolan Arenado” in for Austin Riley and this is probably what we’ll get this season from Caray on Bally.
(I should note that some of these are compiled videos and he didn’t do solo broadcasts, so not all of the voices you will hear are Chip Caray.)
Braves vs. Marlins highlights:
Braves clinch the East:
Braves vs. Mets in late September
Jansen gets an important save;
That’s all I’ve got today! Hope you enjoyed the videos. And if you have opinions on Rolen’s election or Caray’s calls, the comments are yours. Have a great Wednesday, Viva El Birdos.