All posts by Haruko Haruhara

Haruko’s 2017 Hall of Fame update

I’m going to focus on who I think helped their Hall of Fame case in 2016 and who I think didn’t and who I think stayed in about the same position.

I’m going to ignore a few people who are kind of Hall of Fame no-brainers — Albert Pujols and Mike Trout mainly. I’m also mostly going to ignore younger players like Jose Altuve and focus on guys who have been around for a while. Many of these guys are currently on the borderline of the Hall, I think. Probably less than half the people I talk about will actually make the Hall of Fame, but I think they have the potential to possibly get there by the time their careers are over. I’m also ignoring guys that have PED suspensions like Nelson Cruz, Bartolo Colon and Alex Rodriguez because that’s still kind of a non-starter for the Hall of Fame.

Keep in mind that when I talk about some of these players that I’m not sure that many people really considered Adrian Beltre a serious Hall of Famer just five years ago. He’s stayed healthy and had five outstanding seasons in his mid- and late-30s and is now an almost certain Hall of Famer. Some guys in their mid- to late-30s find new life and can really bolster their chances. Some guys fade pretty quickly when they hit 35. You never know.

And, as usual, I’m sure I will miss some people.

First, I will start with position players.

Position players who helped their Hall of Fame cases.

Carlos Beltran

Career numbers

.281, 2,617 hits, 421 HRs, 1,536 RBIs


.295, 29 HRs, 93 RBIs

Beltran had his best season in several years in 2016. To be honest, I have a hard time thinking of Beltran as a Hall of Famer. He got fourth place in the MVP vote one year, but that’s the one and only time he finished in the top 8 of the MVP vote. But, at the same time, his cumulative numbers are getting pretty impressive, a bit surprising considering how many games he’s missed to injury. He turns 40 this year. If he plays a couple more years, and there’s no reason to think he won’t, averages over 100 games a year and ends up with 2,800 hits, 450-plus home runs and over 1,700 RBIs, that’s getting really hard to ignore for the Hall of Fame. If he never played another game, I think he would fall a bit short. One thing that will really hurt him for the Hall of Fame is what I call the “Fred McGriff Syndrome.” Beltran has bounced around his entire career; he’s played for a total of seven teams and he’s never stayed anywhere more than seven years. When you don’t really identify a guy with one or two teams, I think that hurts at Hall of Fame balloting time. If McGriff had played his entire career with the Yankees or Red Sox, he’d be in the Hall of Fame with the numbers he put up. I really believe that.

Chances for Hall of Fame.

Probably about 50/50.

Adrian Beltre

Career numbers

.287, 2,942 hits, 445 home runs, 1,591 RBIs.


.300, 32 HRs, 104 RBIs, Gold Glove

Beltre helped cement his Hall of Fame resume with an awesome year at the age of 37, in which he won his fifth Gold Glove. I can’t believe there’s still people who insist he isn’t a Hall of Famer — and there are, trust me. He should get to 3,000 hits in June and when he does, he will be  one of just nine guys in history with 3,000 hits and 450 home runs. If he can get to 500 home runs, he will be one of only six guys with 3,000 hits and 500 home runs. All that and he’s been an outstanding defensive third basemen for 15 years.

Hall of Fame chances

Automatic, likely first ballot.

Robinson Cano

Career numbers

.307, 2,210 hits, 278 HRs, 1,086 RBIs.


.298, 39 HRs, 103 RBIs

Cano had his best power year ever in 2016 at the age of 33. He will be only 34 this year and is just 790 hits short of 3,000. At the pace he’s going, he should get to 3,000 hits when he’s 38 or 39 years old. And he never misses games. One of his most incredible stats is that Cano has missed a total of 24 games since 2007. Cano has never had fewer than 155 hits in a season. It appears he will easily get to 350 HRs and could make it to 400, a lot for a second baseman. All that and two Gold Gloves.

Hall of Fame chances

Better than 50/50.

Miguel Cabrera

Career numbers

.321, 2,519 hits, 446 HRs, 1,553 RBIs


.316, 38 HRs, 108 RBIs

Cabrera was probably a no-brainer for the Hall of Fame, but he had experienced a pretty major dropoff in power in 2014 and 2015. If there was any doubt about his Hall of Fame chances, he erased that last season, putting up huge numbers. Cabrera will be just 34 this year and is only 481 hits short of 3,000. He could get to 3,000 hits before the age of 37. He will easily surpass 500 HRs (sometime in 2018, likely) and could get to 600 (and could crack 2,000 RBIs). Add to that two MVPs and four batting titles.

Hall of Fame chances

First ballot slam dunk.

Joey Votto

Career numbers

.313, .425 OBP (12th all-time), .961 OPS (18th all-time), 221 HRs, MVP


.326, 29 HRs, 97 RBIs, 101 runs, 108 walks

Joey Votto has his second straight outstanding season in 2016.  He is quietly putting up amazing numbers that I believe deserve to get serious Hall of Fame consideration. However, because he walks a lot and has lost nearly 200 games in his career to injuries, he hasn’t compiled numbers and this will likely hurt him at Hall of Fame time. Did you know Votto has the 12th-highest on-base percentage of all-time? He also has the 18th highest OPS … ever. That’s why I think he deserves some attention for the Hall of Fame. Votto has an MVP and has finished in the top seven of the MVP vote five times. Still, he only has 1,407 hits and 730 RBIs at the age of 33, which is a negative on his resume. If he can continue putting up the kind of seasons he has most of his career for perhaps another five years and make it to at least 2,000 hits (not easy when you walk over 100 times a year) and 350 HRs, I think he’s got a shot at the Hall of Fame.

Hall of Fame chances

Hard to predict, deserves to be 50/50, I think

David Ortiz

Career numbers

.286, 541 HRs, 1,768 RBIs, .931 OPS, WS MVP, ALCS MVP, .455 in World Series


.315, 38 HRs, 127 RBIs, 1.021 OPS (are you kidding me?)

There’s no doubt Ortiz is a polarising figure because of the suspicions that he juiced. Without getting into the juicing accusations (based primarily on a New York Times article about a positive test for an unknown substance before baseball had sanctions for positive tests), I’m just going to look at his raw numbers. Based on numbers and nothing else, Ortiz should be the first pure DH to go into the Hall of Fame. He had a monster year at the age of 40, leading the AL in OPS at the age of 40, which is unheard of. He ended up 17th all-time in home runs and 22nd all-time in RBIs. Add to that a World Series MVP, an ALCS MVP and a .455 batting average in 14 World Series games. It will be hard to predict how Ortiz will do when his time comes up for a Hall vote because of the PED suspicions, but his cumulative numbers are so impressive that I think it quells the “DHs don’t belong in the Hall” nonsense. Bagwell and Piazza going into the Hall of Fame helps Ortiz’s chances because of the PED suspicions surrounding them.

Hall of Fame chances

It’s complicated


Career numbers

3,030 hits, .313 average, 10 Gold Gloves, 508 steals


.291, cracked 3,000 hits

I don’t think there was a lot of doubt before last year that Ichiro was going to make the Hall of Fame, but since he cracked 3,000 hits (and 500 steals) in 2016, I think that removed any and all remaining doubt. He will go in first ballot.

Actually, I really felt like it was very much in doubt he was going to make it to 3,000 hits after hitting just .229 in 2015. He ended up with his highest batting average since 2010. Ichiro passed eight Hall of Famers in hits last season and now stands at 3,030 hits. He could end up 20th all-time in hits if he gets 85 more in 2017. And he started as a 27-year-old rookie. His stretch between 2001 and 2010 was simply incredible — he averaged 224 hits a year over a 10-year period and holds the record for most hits in a season at 262.

Hall of Fame chances

First ballot.

Dustin Pedroia

Career stats

.301, 1,683 hits, 133 HRs, four Gold Gloves, MVP, 56 career errors


.318, 15 HRs, 74 RBIs, 105 runs, 201 hits


Ft. Myers, FL, February 17, 2013:
(Photo by Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox)

Pedroia had a really nice bounceback season in 2016. It was his first genuinely injury-free season since 2012. Pedroia is still just 33 and easily could play another five full years. He’s hit over .300 five times and over .290 eight times. I think he needs to get to at least 2,400 hits and perhaps 200 HRs (and keep his career average above .285) to get a shot at the Hall of Fame. If he can average 140 hits a year and 12 home runs a year for five years, that gets him close to 2,400 hits and 200 home runs. He’s a really underrated defensive second baseman, having made just 56 errors in nearly 1,400 games at second base. That’s unreal. He still has work to do for the Hall of Fame, but with a couple more years like last year hitting well over .300, he has a shot.

Chances for Hall of Fame

Less than 50/50.

Edwin Encarnacion

Career numbers

.266, 310 HRs, 942 RBIs


.262, 42 HRs, 127 RBIs

Don’t laugh. I think he has a real shot at the Hall of Fame after another big year in 2016.  The biggest reason I include Encarnacion is his 310 HRs at the age of 33. He’s gotten more powerful as he’s gotten older and I expect he will DH soon, extending his career. He could easily get to 450 home runs and he has a legitimate shot at 500 … if he averages about 30 home runs a year until he turns 39 .. and power ages well. He has hit 193 home runs over the past five years (38.6 home runs a year) and has 550 RBIs over that same span (110 a year). I think Encarnacion probably has to get to 500 home runs to get in the Hall of Fame, or he’ll end up like Carlos Delgado or Fred McGriff, on the outside looking in.

Hall of Fame chances

Less than 50/50.

Ian Kinsler

Career stats

.277, 212 HRs, 211 stolen bases, 1,696 hits


.288, 28 HRs, 83 RBIs, Gold Glove

I never thought of Kinsler as a potential Hall of Famer until someone pointed out to me just how good his career numbers are. He has an outside chance at the Hall. He had his best power year since 2011 last year and he has started hitting for average again the past two seasons after a few seasons hitting in the .250s. He also is a rare breed — a second baseman with more than 200 home runs and 200 stolen bases. Joe Morgan and Ryne Sandberg might be the only others who have ever done that. He also won his first Gold Glove last year. One thing that will hurt him, and I think it will hurt him a lot, is his fairly low career batting average — .277. Kinsler will turn 35 this year. If he can get to 2,000 hits, 300 home runs and 250 steals, he might have a shot at the Hall of Fame.

Hall of Fame chances

Less than 50/50.

Evan Longoria

Career stats

.271, 241 HRs, 806 RBIs


.273, 36 HRs, 98 RBIs

Longoria had his best power year ever in 2016. I included Longoria because he is still just 31 years old and already has 241 home runs. He’s hit over 30 HRs four times and it’s conceivable if he averages 30 home runs a year over the next five years that he could have 390 home runs at the age of 35, well within range of 500. Longoria is hurt by a fairly low career batting average, some injury-plagued years and being stuck in Tampa Bay, where he doesn’t get much attention.

Hall of Fame chances

Less than 50/50

Position players whose Hall of Fame stock remained about the same

Yadier Molina

Career stats

.285 average, eight Gold Gloves, 1,593 hits


.307, 8 HRs, 58 RBIs, 38 doubles

A weird year for Molina. He hit over .300 for the fifth time (his first .300-plus year since 2013), which really helps his case, but for the first time since 2007, he didn’t win the Gold Glove (and he actually didn’t throw basestealers out very well last year). He had won eight Gold Gloves in a row. Molina probably needs to get to 2,000 hits to have a real crack at the Hall of Fame, and at the age of 34, he can probably do that in about another four years.  There aren’t many guys who have gotten 2,000 hits from the catcher position. Just three. Not even Gary Carter, Mike Piazza or Johnny Bench did it. Molina has 1,576 hits as a catcher, only 424 hits short, so if he does it, that will be a huge plus for him. Still, offensively, he’s a bit of a mixed bag — .285 for a catcher is pretty good, but his power numbers for the catcher position are pedestrian, just 108 home runs and 703 RBIs in his career. That could hurt him at Hall of Fame time. But, with eight and possibly more Gold Gloves on his resume and considered the best defensive catcher in the National League for a decade, he has a real shot.

Hall of Fame chances

About 50/50.

Position players whose Hall of Fame stock declined

Chase Utley

Career Statistics

.278. 250 HRs, 977 RBIs, 1,777 hits


.252, 14 HRs, 52 RBIs, 115 strikeouts

Utley gets some Hall of Fame buzz; there are definitely people out there who believe he ought to be a Hall of Famer, mostly because of his stellar career WAR of 64.4. Utley to me is a classic example of why I don’t like the WAR stat. There are times it simply makes no sense. Why his career WAR is so high, I have no idea because honestly, he hasn’t been that great for a while now.Utley didn’t have a particularly good year in 2016  and he hasn’t had a particularly good year since … 2009. Over the past seven seasons, Utley’s average stats per year are .260 with 13 HRs and 56 RBIs a year. Those aren’t Hall of Fame numbers. Not even close. He has five absolutely outstanding years between 2005 and 2009, but he’s had a ton of injuries and six very sub-Hall of Fame years since (with one decent year in 2013). He likely won’t make it to 2,000 hits and unless he has a serious career renaissance beginning at the age of 38 this year, I don’t see him making the Hall. If Jeff Kent isn’t in with the numbers he put up at second base, then Utley won’t get in. I don’t care what his WAR is, I look at 14 seasons, and eight of them are not remotely close to Hall of Fame-worthy. He’s more the Hall of What Coulda Been.

Hall of Fame chances

I say slight, pfffft to WAR

Mark Teixeira

Career Stas

.268, 409 HRs, 1,298 RBIs


.204, 15 HRs, 44 RBIs

I honestly think Teixeira could’ve made the Hall of Fame, because he had a pretty valid shot at 500 home runs and actually was having a really good year in 2015 until he broke his leg. But, after another awful year in 2016, Teixeira called it quits at the age of 36. I figured if he could stay healthy and play until he was 40 and get to 500 HRs, he might have a shot at the hall. I think his numbers fall far short for the Hall of Fame.

Chances for the Hall of Fame

Virtually zero

Jimmy Rollins

Career stats

.264, 2,455 hits, 231 HRs, 131 triples, 470 stolen bases, 511 doubles, 1,421 runs, MVP, four Gold Gloves


.221, 2 HRs 8 RBIs

I only include Rollins because at one time, it looked like he was a legitimate candidate for the Hall of Fame. He had 2,175 hits at the age of 34, well within range of 3,000, and a LOT of runs, steals and home runs. But, over the past three seasons, he’s batted .233 and last year appeared in just 41 games. It appears his career is all but over at the age of 37. He’s compiled a lot of numbers — hits, home runs, stolen bases, triples, runs. But, Rollins has never hit for particularly good average, he’s never had even one .300 season and he hasn’t hit over .268 since 2008 (In fact, since 2008, his cumulative batting average is just .247). He’s a guy who’s played a ton of games and had a ton of at-bats so he compiled a lot of numbers, but overall, those numbers aren’t going to be good enough for the Hall of Fame.

Chances for the Hall of Fame

Virtually zero

Joe Mauer

Career stats

.308, MVP, 3-time batting champ, three Gold Gloves, 1,826 hits


.261, 11 HRs, 49 RBIs

Mauer has had a weird career. I only include Mauer because he had a truly extraordinary Hall of Fame-calibre stretch between 2006-2013. In those eight years, he had three batting titles, hit over .300 six times and hit a cumulative .327. Since 2013, he’s hit .267, with little power.

Mauer after 2013 looked like a sure-fire Hall of Famer, with an MVP and four top-8 MVP finishes. But, in the past three seasons, his numbers have nosedived, maybe too many injuries, I don’t know what is behind it. In 2016, he had his third straight season of hitting below .280. He’s still a .308 career hitter (down from a career batting average of .323 before 2014), but it appears his career is winding down at the age of 34.

Unless Mauer has a big resurgence for at least three or four years, and that’s looking unlikely, I think he comes up short for the Hall of Fame. His career numbers are looking really similar to Don Mattingly’s and Steve Garvey’s — two guys who were great the first half of their careers but pedestrian their second halves — only without power numbers to help his cause.

Chances for Hall of Fame


Pitchers who helped their case for the Hall of Fame

Max Scherzer

Career stats

125-69, 3.39 ERA, 2 Cy Youngs, 1,881 strikeouts, two 20-win seasons


20-7, 2.96 ERA, 284 strikeouts, Cy Young award, 0.968 WHIP (First in NL)

Scherzer really helped his Hall of Fame resume this year. He won his second Cy Young and is only one of six pitchers now to win a Cy Young in both the American League and the National League. Only one non-steroids tainted pitcher has won two Cy Youngs and is not in the Hall of Fame — Brett Saberhagen, whose career was cut short by injuries. Scherzer had a spectacular season, leading the National League in wins (he had his second 20-win season), strikeouts, WHIP and innings pitched. He is averaging 256 strikeouts a season over the past five years and seems likely to pass 3,000 strikeouts. He has also averaged 17.3 wins a year over the past six years. He is still only 32 and barring arm injuries could get to 200 wins (prolly a Hall of Fame minimum) by the age of 37 or 38. He does have a potentially chronic hand/finger injury, which is worrisome.

Hall of Fame chances

About 50/50.

Justin Verlander

Career stats

173-106, 3.47 ERA, four strikeout titles, MVP,  Cy Young, two Cy Young second-place finishes,, 2,173 strikeouts


16-9, 3.04 ERA, 254 strikeouts (first in AL), 2nd in Cy Young voting

Verlander’s numbers and career appeared to be in decline, but last year, he had a great bounceback season, which got him second place in the Cy Young vote (and many people will argue Verlander got robbed because a couple of writers didn’t even bother to even include him on their ballots). Verlander is 173-106 in his career and is still just 34 years old; 200 wins seems a certainty. He also now has five top-5 finishes in the Cy Young vote with one Cy Young award and is one of the few pitchers to ever win an MVP. He’s also at 2,173 strikeouts, with a shot at 3,000, and he’s led the AL four times in strikeouts. I think he needs to get to 200 wins and have perhaps another two or three pretty good seasons to make the Hall of Fame.

Chances for Hall of Fame

About 50/50.

CC Sabathia

Career stats

223-146, Cy Young, 2,726 strikeouts, 3.70 career ERA


9-12, 3.91 ERA

Sabathia actually had a decent season; enough to show that he isn’t done yet as a pitcher after a lot of injuries and personal problems. I honestly thought last year could’ve been his final season. Sabathia had a losing record in 2016, but a respectable ERA, so he may have a few years left at the age of 36. Sabathia has 223 wins with 2,726 strikeouts. So, 250 wins and 3,000 strikeouts are not out of the question. Even 270-280 wins is still possible. Some people scoff at the idea of Sabathia being a Hall of Famer, but they forget how good he was from 2001-2012. In those 12 seasons, he went 191-102, won a Cy Young and had five top-5 Cy Young finishes. His career ERA of 3.70 is a bit high. If Sabathia retired today, I doubt he makes the Hall.

Chances for Hall of Fame

Probably less than 50/50.

Clayton Kershaw

Career stats

126-60, three Cy Youngs, 2.37 career ERA , MVP, Fifth in Cy Young vote


12-4, 1.69 ERA, 172 strikeouts in 149 innings

Kershaw had his first major injury in 2016, he was likely on his way to his fourth Cy Young before he got hurt. Still, he had decent numbers and came in fifth in the Cy Young vote despite only pitching 21 games. So, 2016 didn’t hurt his case. Kershaw is likely a lock for the Hall of Fame already with three Cy Youngs, six top-5 Cy Young finishes, an MVP and the lowest career ERA since Walter Johnson. Kershaw’s career ERA of 2.37 is almost half a run better than the next modern-era Hall of Fame starter — Whitey Ford at 2.75. And he already has over 1,900 strikeouts … he is still only 29 years old.. He could really compile some impressive numbers if he can pitch another 10 years — 250+ wins and 3,000 strikeouts is a real possibility. On the bad side, Kershaw’s injury was a bad one — in his back. Hopefully, it won’t become a chronic issue. However, even if Kershaw retired after this year, I think he’d make the Hall of Fame with what he has already done.

Chances for Hall of Fame

Near certainty.

Madison Bumgarner

100-67, 2.99 career ERA, NLCS MVP, WS MVP


15-9, 2.74 ERA, 251 strikeouts, Fourth in Cy Young vote

Bumgarner had another typical Bumgarner season in 2016, not what I would call spectacular, but pretty darn good.  It was Bumgarner’s third year in the top-6 of the Cy Young voting. Bumgarner also got to 100 wins last year and believe it or not, he is still only 27. He easily could have 140 wins before he turns 30. He is also 8-3 in the postseason with an NLCS MVP and a World Series MVP, which helps his case. He needs to do more, obviously, but is on a good Hall of Fame track with a  lot of wins for a guy who is still pretty young. It would help his case if he could win a Cy Young before he’s done.

Hall of Fame chances: About 50/50

Jon Lester

146-84, 3.44 ERA, three world championships, 4-1 in the World Series, three top-4 Cy Young votes

2016 season

19-5, 2.44 ERA, second in Cy Young vote

Lester had one of his best years ever in 2016. He’s won 15 or more games seven times and has three top-4 finishes in the Cy Young vote. He’s 33 years old and could get to 200 wins by the time he’s 36. I still consider him a longshot for the Hall of Fame, but I think after last year, he has a chance. He needs to have at least three or four more really good years to have a shot.

Hall of Fame chances: Less than 50/50

Pitchers who didn’t help their case

Zack Greinke

155-100, 3.42 ERA, Cy Young, second-place Cy Young finish


13-7, 4.37 ERA

Greinke had a down year in 2016. His record of 13-7 was OK, but his 26 starts and high ERA weren’t. After an amazing year in 2015 (19-3, 1.66 ERA, second in the Cy Young), I felt he was a serious Hall of Fame candidate. He still is, but he can’t continue having seasons with an ERA way over 4.00. Greinke is still just 33 years old and could have 200 wins by the age of 35. He also won a Cy Young in Kansas City. Much like Lester, he needs to have at least three or four more really good seasons to have a shot.

Hall of Fame chances: Less than 50/50

Felix Hernandez

154-109, Cy Young, four top-4 Cy Young finishes, 2,264 strikeouts, 3.16 ERA


11-8,  3.82 ERA

Felix had a bit of a lost year, with a major calf injury costing him a couple of months. At one point, he was 11-5 and still could’ve ended up with a decent season, but he lost his last three games and his ERA ballooned in Septmeber. He is still just 31 years old and seems a cinch to get to 200 wins (he could get there at the age of 33). In fact, he’s got a legitimate shot at 250 wins. The good news is his injury was in his calf, not his arm, so there is likely little danger of it becoming chronic. He needs to bounce back and regain his form from 2009-2015. Seattle now has some offence, too, so that should help his win total, which was killed earlier in his career by pitching for bad offensive teams. He also seems a cinch to get to 3,000 strikeouts and could get to 3,500, something only nine pitchers have done.

Chance for Hall of Fame: About 50/50


How four films — and one TV show — saved animation from the brink of extinction

The Secret of NIMH
The Secret of NIMH

I got much of the information for this blog post from the excellent and entertaining “The World History of Animation.” I highly recommend it. It’s a really informative and entertaining read.

Today, animation is a multi-billion dollar world industry via film, television and DVDs. After the mega-successes of Frozen (2014, $1.28 billion worldwide gross), Minions (2015, $1.16 billion gross) and Inside Out (2015, $857 million gross), animation on both the big screen and on television is a thriving mega-billion dollar industry. The industry has never been healthier and more vibrant and creative.

But, believe it or not, for a period in the 1980s, the entire industry nearly collapsed, utterly and totally. Four films — and one television show — helped bring this century-old art form back from the brink of the dead.

Beginning with a somewhat obscure movie:

1) The Secret of NIMH, 1982

I first saw the Secret of NIMH when I was perhaps six or seven. This movie came out in 1982 at the absolute nadir of the animation industry; in the industry, it’s actually known as the “Dark Ages.” It actually flopped at the box office, but slowly became a cult favourite, much like other early ’80s kids’ movies like The Dark Crystal and Labyrinth. It’s now considered a deeply beloved classic and I believe one of the most important animated films ever made.

A child has pneumonia in The Secret of NIMH

This was an especially bleak period for animation. Disney was the only major studio putting out animation and its last so-called “classic” animated film was in 1967 with The Jungle Book. Disney’s big golden era was from 1937-1967, but the magic started wearing off, mostly because of increasingly weak scripts and mediocre animation. Disney put out a series of flops and forgettable films such as Robin Hood, The Rescuers and the Fox and the Hound. Hardly Snow White or Dumbo or Pinocchio. After Star Wars and Superman, animation just didn’t “wow” kids anymore.

One of the biggest factors in the disintegration of American animation was Hanna-Barbera. Hanna-Barbera is well-known for creating a lot of famous characters on television, from Fred Flintstone to Huckleberry Hound, Top Cat, Yogi Bear, Snagglepuss, Scooby Doo, etc. Hanna-Barbera managed to completely dominate the television animation market, mostly with its Saturday morning lineup. Two other studios — Rankin-Bass (ThunderCats) and Filmation (Masters of the Universe) — tried to compete with and mostly copy Hanna-Barbera’s destructive and lazy business model (Rankin-Bass to its credit actually tried to do some decent animation in TV specials, but the studio also put out a lot of lousy Saturday morning fare.). One of the reasons Hanna-Barbera became so influential is that Warner Brothers, which made a lot of classic cartoons and famous characters from the 1930s to the 1960s, completely bowed out of animation in 1969. When Warner Brothers dropped out, that opened the door for Hanna-Barbera to wreak havoc, and boy that awful studio did.

Goober and the Ghost Chasers, one of several annoying Scooby Doo clones put out by Hanna-Barbera.

Hanna-Barbera actually started out in the late 50s and 1960s making decent cartoons and memorable characters people recognise to this day. Probably due mostly to its ridiculous monopoly, Hanna-Barbera cartoons really started to deteriorate around 1970. Basically, the whole point of Hanna-Barbera cartoons was simply to sell sugary cereal — nothing more. The Hanna-Barbera shows became incredibly lazy and derivative — with a total of SIX shows copied DIRECTLY from Scooby Doo– Josie and the Pussycats,  The Funky Phantom, Speed Buggy, Goober and the Ghost Chasers, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kids and Jabberjaw. Seriously, these six Hanna-Barbera shows are all exactly alike. Dumb, lame, lazy, cookie-cutter copycats of Scooby Doo with fake, annoying teenagers and some annoying goofy animal character, be it a Great Dane or a shark or a talking car, solving the same lame mysteries in every show. Again, quality wasn’t emphasised in the slightest by Hanna-Barbera, the whole point was quantity — and to do it cheaply as possible and to sell Cocoa Puffs and Trix. The cereal companies really powered these shows.

Scripts were tedious, written by committee and repeated from other H-B shows. The animation became lazier, too, featuring static background and static characters simply standing still while their mouths moved. Often times, the same exact backgrounds showed up in a bunch of different Hanna-Barbera shows. The pay and working conditions were terrible. Animators often made less than $20,000 a year. Creativity was completely stifled. The work was dull and repetitive and most animators, especially the good ones, quit in frustration or disgust. Hanna-Barbera was the biggest employer in the animation world for a time and when you combine it with the equally awful work from Filmation, the industry simply collapsed — and dragged Disney down with it.

Disney for some reason likewise lost its creative edge, probably beginning way back after Sleeping Beauty (1959). It had one more big hit with The Jungle Book in 1967, but then Disney fell into the same morass of forgettable work as Hanna-Barbera  began to dominate the industry. Disney severely cut back its animation department in the 1970s and many of those animators ended up at H-B or Filmation.

And along came Don Bluth and The Secret of NIMH to help save the day. Don Bluth was the lead animator at Disney through much of the ’70s. He quit the company in frustration with its cost-cutting ways and started up his own studio, bringing 11 Disney animators with him. Their first feature film was The Secret of NIMH, a very dark and frightening movie involving a child with pneumonia, animal experimentation, death and torture (Believe it or not, The Secret of NIMH was rated “G.” It was tame by today’s standards, but very grim for a G movie in 1982.) Disney refused to make The Secret of NIMH because of its dark content, but Bluth jumped at the story.

Yes, the Secret of NIMH was rated “G.”

The Secret of NIMH actually lost money at the box office, mostly because United Artists did a terrible job of marketing it. The studio had no confidence in animated films and it wasn’t sure how to handle such a dark kids’ movie. However, Disney executives were blown away by it and it definitely got their attention. They saw that Bluth was a genius and that he and his team knew what they were doing. In some ways, the Secret of NIMH is slightly overrated (the movie is full of plot holes), but the movie to this day has a charm that has stood the test of time. It is a genuine classic that has deservedly gained a big cult following over the decades. It cannot be overstated how influential this little movie was.

Bluth followed this film with An American Tail, Land Before Time and All Dogs Go To Heaven, all of which made huge sums of money and scared the bejeesus out of Disney. Disney put out a couple of forgettable movies in the 1980s, called The Black Cauldron (a somewhat dark movie kind of stealing from The Secret of NIMH) and The Great Mouse Detective. Bluth’s movies out-grossed Disney’s … by a bunch. The Black Cauldron (1985), while an interesting attempt by Disney to do something different, had a number of production and script problems and ended up a weird and  pretty charmless ripoff of Ralph Bakshi’s “Wizards.” (1976). The Black Cauldron was such a flop critically and financially, Disney nearly shut down its animation department for good.

Bluth was a trailblazer often overlooked today. He made several more movies, but never matched the success he found in the 1980s. He made millions and more importantly in the long run, he woke up a sleeping giant at Disney. Disney roared back with an incredible vengeance in the late 1980s.

2) Who Framed Roger Rabbit, 1987

Who Framed Roger Rabbit was Disney’s first huge hit in decades

The period after 1987 became known as “Disney’s Renaissance” or the “Renaissance Era” of animation in general. It is truly remarkable how this studio came back from the dead. Literally. After the the Black Cauldron debacle, Disney chairman Michael Eisner put Walt Disney’s nephew in charge of the animation department (Roy Disney Jr.). Roy Jr. was determined to return the Disney animation studio to its glory days. At the time, Disney was making most of its box office off Touchstone Films. Not only did he arguably save Disney, but he may have saved animation in America.


The first major film made under Roy Disney’s stewardship was Who Framed Roger Rabbit, which was a half-animation, half-live action film. However, the animation and characters were goofy, funny as heck and were a hit with kids and adults alike. This was the first clue in a long time to studios that adults liked animation, too. The movie was an homage to great cartoons from the 1930s and 1940s and included a lot of animated characters from the past. Hollywood discovered, whether it meant to or not, that people were really nostalgic for those old cartoons. Who Framed Roger Rabbit was both a technical and commercial success. The movie grossed $330 million — a LOT for 1987 — and won three Academy Awards for technical achievement, including an award for best visual effects. Disney was back and was just getting started.

But, first, perhaps one of the most important and influential films ever made.

3) Akira, 1988

Akira … one of the tamer scenes

This is simply put, to this day, 28 years later, one of the most amazing, mind-blowing, genuinely awe-inspiring films ever made. It’s like Japan’s Star Wars and 2001: A Space Odyssey rolled into one.

Akira is a grueling, 130-minute-long monster that completely blew world audiences away. No one had seen anything like it before (and honestly, I’m not sure anyone has seen anything like it since. A lot of 1980s anime is pretty dated, but it’s amazing how well Akira stands up to the test of time.). It became a cult hit in America, despite a very poor original English dub (A vastly superior English dub was added 20 years later, thankfully.). It was also a big hit in Europe.


A bit of background on Japanese animation. While the American animation industry was dying, Japan’s animation industry was rolling right along in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. In the 1960s, there were hit series such as Kimba the White Lion, Speed Racer and Astro Boy. Into the 70s, the hits continued with Lupin III and Captain Harlock.

Famed animator Hiyao Miyazaki had some big hits in Japan with Castle of Cagliostro, Nausicaa and the Valley of the Wind, and the Castle in the Sky, but after a cheap and half-hearted cut and English dub of Nausicaa, he refused to have his films released in America for roughly a decade. People in the West didn’t really start seeing his movies until the 1990s.

But, first came Akira. Akira woke up Western audiences in both America and Europe to the amazing animation happening in Japan. This gore-soaked, ultra-violent, hard-R, cyberpunk classic  opened up a floodgate of interest in anime worldwide that is thriving to this day. After Akira, Miyazaki was convinced (By John Lasseter from Pixar) to allow his films to be released in America, and his Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service were big hits in America, especially on DVD and VHS. Then, Cowboy Bebop became a big hit on American television, followed by Fooly Cooly, Attack on Titan and many others. Miyazaki’s Spirited Away (which won an Academy Award for best animated film) and Howl’s Moving Castle continued the worldwide success of anime.

Miyazaki’s “My Neighbour Totoro”

Today, anime is an incredibly influential and thriving industry worldwide. An interesting phenomenon about anime is it very heavily borrowed from Western films and animation, but then Western animators and filmmakers started copying anime (American or European cartoons such as Totally Spies, Powerpuff Girls, Samurai Jack, My Little Ponies and even Batman all copied anime techniques). The Matrix is essentially a live-action anime film that borrows heavily from Akira. Two upcoming major motion pictures, The Ghost in the Machine and Attack on Titan, are based on animes. Simply put, anime is a heck of a lot more influential than a lot of people realise. And Akira really drove the genre to new heights.

Speaking of television animation.

4) The Simpsons, 1989    733328f7e9488393ff28bbdfefd03ce20615664280628f73f589d4de66bfb7bc


The Simpsons premiered as its own show in 1989. It’s hard to believe it’s been around for 27 years. And so, so much has grown from the Simpsons. The Simpsons took the formula from Who Framed Roger Rabbit to create prime time adult and kids’ entertainment on television. The Simpsons helped lead to so many other prime-time adult shows such as South Park, Family Guy, American Dad, Bob’s Burgers, The Venture Brothers, Metalocalypse, Rick & Morty, Archer, Robot Chicken, etc., etc. It turns out animation was a perfect venue for adult humour, parody, satire and social commentary.

rick and morty
Rick and Morty

Meanwhile, the malevolent Hanna-Barbera studio finally went out of business (Ironically, H-B brands are now owned by Turner Broadcasting, which has produced a number of shows parodying, at times ruthlessly, these awful Hanna-Barbera cartoons. I wondered for years how Turner got away with that before learning Turner now owns H-B.), and Filmation and Rankin-Bass likewise evaporated. What jumped into the vacuum were a bunch of independently produced and syndicated cartoons, which could be made easily and cheaply by a small number of people via computer animation. However, being independent of big studios, with two or three networks dedicated to showing animated series, these cartoons for both kids and adults were and continue to be both funny and creative. There’s simply too many of these shows to name — Home Movies, Doug, SpongeBob Squarepants, The Wild Thornberrys, Adventure Time, Ren and Stimpy, etc., etc. I know I missed a few. The shows are countless. There’s several I’ve never seen. And most of them are quite cute and educational for kids. None of that half-arsed Scooby Doo copycat crap, anymore. The Simpsons helped lead the way for all of this. All of these shows owe The Simpsons a thank you.

And now, the movie that changed an industry for over a quarter-century.

5) The Little Mermaid, 1989

The Little Mermaid

The Little Mermaid was the second all-animation feature put out by Disney after Roy Disney Jr. took over the animation department (the first was The Great Mouse Detective, which did OK financially but is pretty forgettable.). It was considered Disney’s best film in decades and was a smash hit, grossing over $200 million. I don’t think this is Disney’s best film, but it was easily its best one since Jungle Book. One thing interesting about The Little Mermaid is that Disney was definitely paying attention to anime, which still wasn’t really hitting its stride in the West, and copied many anime techniques in this film.

The Little Mermaid reminded Disney that animated movies once made a ton of money for the studio and could again. After The Little Mermaid came other giant smash hits for Disney — The Beauty and the Beast ($400 million gross), Aladdin ($504 million), the Lion King ($968 million). Disney’s big five animated films (including Roger Rabbit and The Little Mermaid) from 1987 to 1994 grossed a staggering $2.42 billion … and that’s in late 1980s and early 1990s dollars. The studio that had languished for 20 years was now a powerhouse.

The Beauty and the Beast

After The Lion King, Disney purchased Pixar and became an even bigger behemoth. Pixar was a leader in a new art form — computer animation rather than hand-drawn. Today, nearly all American animation is computer animation (even animation that appears to be hand-drawn is actually created on computers today). Even Japan is abandoning hand-drawn animation for less-manpower-intensive computer art, though at a much slower rate. It’s sad to see a century-old art form fade away, but the fact is, computer animation is simply much, much more practical, and computer animation helped drive Hanna-Barbera and Filmation out of the industry. And much of it is gorgeous.

Pixar’s first big hit for Disney was Toy Story in 1995, which grossed $360 million. Meanwhile, Disney continued to put out big, critically acclaimed hits through traditional animation, such as Hercules and Mulan. Pixar showed it wasn’t a one-hit wonder with Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo and The Incredibles. Both the computer and hand-drawn units at Pixar and Disney were raking in billions every year from box office and DVD sales and rentals. Disney and Pixar’s formula relied on strong spare-no-expense animation, attention to detail and perhaps most importantly, likable characters and good, well-written and thought-out scripts. Kids liked the movies and parents liked taking their kids to these movies. It’s like people actually figured out after the Death Valley of the 1970s and 1980s, “if we put out a quality product, people will actually pay for it!” So unlike the decades of painfully awful, cheap, charmless drek from Hanna-Barbera, Filmation and even Disney. The art form became both a financial juggernaut and a showcase for artistic talent.

Toy Story was Pixar’s first big hit

While Disney and Pixar were off to the races, Dreamworks Animation actually provided some fairly serious competition. Dreamworks had a number of pretty big hits itself, from Shrek to Madagascar, How to Train Your Dragon, Kung Fu Panda and The Croods. Some of Dreamworks’ movies are good, too, but Dreamworks seems a little more geared as a pure money-making machine, relying a little more heavily on franchises than Pixar and Disney, making multiple sequels to most of its hits. Meanwhile, Universal Animation came out with the adorable Despicable Me and Minions (which grossed $1.1 billion in 2015). Even stop-animation cartoons, long a neglected art form, made a big comeback with hits such as The Nightmare Before Christmas, Corpse Bride, Coraline and Wallace & Gromit.

Frozen grossed an incredible $1.28 billion at the box office

The Renaissance Era is over for animation and has now entered what is considered the Millennium Era. Billion-dollar grossing animated films are not unusual today. In 2015, Western animated films grossed over $3 billion at the box office worldwide. By comparison, Western animated movies in 1985 (not counting reissues) grossed about $80 million total. The industry’s revenues had grown 40-fold in 30 years.

It’s hard to believe this thriving art form was all but dead in the West in the 1980s.

The case for Luis Tiant in the Hall of Fame — his stats are virtually identical to Catfish Hunter’s

UNDATED: Luis Tiant #23 of the Boston Red Sox pitches during a game circa the 1971-78 season. (Photo by Rich Pilling/MLB Photos via Getty Images)


Last year, I did a piece on the Expansion Era Veteran’s Committee and the various players considered for the Hall. None of them got picked; I personally advocated strongly for Gil Hodges and Dick Allen, a little less vociferously for Tony Oliva. But, one guy I blew off as “probably not being good enough for the Hall of Fame” was Luis Tiant.

My argument against Tiant being in the Hall of Fame is he only really had six very good years. He won 20 games four times, but he only ever won more than 12 games in season seven times. Basically, his career breaks down to seven, maybe eight good seasons, six mediocre seasons and frankly, five kind of lousy seasons. I figured that isn’t good enough for the Hall of Fame. Well, the veterans’ committee agreed and didn’t put Tiant in. In fact, they didn’t put anyone in.

Luis Tiant

But, now I’ve done a bit of a 180° on Tiant now, mostly thanks to the power of persuasion … because of someone in a baseball discussion group (I’m not 100 percent positive here, but I’m looking at you, Bill Hall) pointed out to me that Tiant’s numbers were virtually the same at Catfish Hunter’s. Hunter, of course, is in the Hall of Fame and I’m not going to argue he doesn’t belong. I looked it up and compared the statistics of Hunter and Tiant and said, “oh, my gosh, this is really remarkable.” Bill was right! Their numbers are virtually identical. And they pitched in virtually the same era in the same league (Catfish Hunter 1965-1979, Luis Tiant 1964-1982). So a direct comparison is completely fair. Check this out. This is amazing. I don’t think I’ve ever seen two players with such similar stats.

Catfish versus Tiant

Pretty darn close, aren’t they? In fact, in most of those categories, Tiant is better. He’s a LOT better in career Wins Above Replacement, a statistic I’m not wild about, but baseball sabremetrics geeks love. In fact, Tiant is 40th all-time in career WAR for pitchers, better than a LOT of Hall of Famer pitchers. His ERA+ is a lot better than Hunter’s, too. Especially in advanced metrics, Tiant’s Hall of Fame resume is stronger than Hunter’s.


Tiant led the AL in ERA twice and shutouts three times. Hunter led the AL in wins twice, ERA once and complete games once. Hunter did have an incredible five-year stretch in which he went 111-49 and won three World Series. Tiant’s success was more spread out over the course of his career, with some poor years in-between. His best five-year run was 96-58.

Catfish Hunter did have four top 4 finishes in the Cy Young voting, while Tiant finished in the top 6 three times and never finished higher than fourth. Tiant did finish fifth once in the MVP voting; Hunter finished sixth in the MVP in his lone Cy Young season. A bit of a wash here, it boils down to 1 Cy Young vs. 0 Cy Youngs.

You could argue that Hunter had more postseason success than Tiant, but actually the difference here is not as stark as you might think. Hunter pitched on five World Series-winning teams for the A’s and Yankees and went 9-6 in the postseason, including 5-3 in the World Series. However, Tiant was no slouch in the postseason, though he didn’t have near the opportunities Hunter had. Tiant went 3-0 in the postseason, including 2-0 in Boston’s legendary 7-game World Series loss in 1975. You can’t really punish him for that.

So, to be fair and honest, there is one big and very legitimate mitigating difference in the careers of Tiant and Hunter, and probably the biggest reason why one is in the Hall of Fame and the other is on the outside looking in. There is a certain element of tragedy to Hunter’s career which probably helped his Hall of Fame case, much like Kirby Puckett. Because if not for serious illness, Hunter could have — and likely would of — won 300 games in his career. Hunter’s career was tragically cut short in large part by diabetes (and possibly by his ALS which wasn’t diagnosed until 19 years after he retired, but may have been affecting him toward the end of his career, even he had no idea.). Hunter was forced to retire at 33 because of arm problems likely partly if not wholly caused by illness(es).  By contrast, Tiant was able to pitch until he was 41 and was still pitching 200 innings a year at 37 and 38. So, Tiant had the advantage of a longer, healthier career to build up virtually identical numbers to Hunter’s.

So, having looked deeper into this thanks to Bill (I think), I would now argue that since Hunter is in the Hall of Fame, shouldn’t Tiant be, too … with the same or even better numbers, compiled during the same era in the same league? (And I also looked up Jim Bunning’s numbers … other than strikeouts, most of Tiant’s numbers are better than Bunning’s and their careers overlapped by eight seasons). I now think Tiant is another one of several players — Hodges, Allen, Oliva, Dave Parket, etc., who have been seriously overlooked by the baseball Hall of Fame.



Learning about all the legendary quarterbacks not in the Hall of Fame, thanks to a butthead Dave Krieg fan

Seahawks Raiders 1989
Dave Krieg

I once got into a huge argument with a Seahawks fan about a year ago about whether Dave Krieg belonged in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Well, this guy was definitely looking at Dave Krieg with Seahawk-coloured glasses and I honestly didn’t like this person and I was looking at his argument coloured by the fact I thought he was kind of an arrogant and ignorant jerk, so we made zero progress with each other.

So, I decided after the cooling of heads over time to take a less passionate view of his argument as sort of a follow up to Pepe’s heartfelt John Brodie post, just as an exercise in logic.

In giving it some thought and doing a bit of research, I decided after a while I didn’t really want to rip into everything wrong with Dave Krieg as a quarterback or Hall of Famer. That was honestly my original intent. Instead,  I’ll spend some energy on that, but not a lot, because I actually found something much more interesting to me — which is, not that many quarterbacks are actually in the Hall of Fame and you might find it amazing some of the very famous names in the history of the NFL and AFL that are not in the Hall of Fame.

The truth of it is, if you really parse Krieg’s stats, there actually is an argument there for him being in the Hall of Fame. Better than I thought before looking into it. However, I’m going to argue that he doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame, not anytime soon at least, for a much different reason than I initially planned.

John Hadl … in 1960s sepiatone!

Here’s the pro arguments in favour of Krieg being in the Hall of Fame. Krieg played a really long time in the NFL — he started 175 games at quarterback between 1983 and 1998, about half of which for the Seahawks and the other half for Kansas City, Chicago, Arizona and Detroit. Krieg was basically what you call in baseball a “compiler” — someone like Jim Kaat or Harold Baines — who is good enough to start for a long time and while perhaps never really being great, is able to compile a lot of stats by staying healthy and not missing many games.

Here’s the impressive stats about Krieg and why you can’t completely dismiss the idea of Krieg as a Hall of Famer. When Krieg retired, he was eighth all-time in passing yardage at 38,147 yards and seventh all-time in passing touchdowns at 261. Every single guy ahead of him in those two categories at the time of his retirement are in the Hall of Fame (Montana, Marino, Elway, Unitas, Fouts, Tarkenton and Moon). Krieg also won 98 games as a starting quarterback, which was also good for eighth all-time. (His overall record as a starter was 98-77, for a winning percentage of .560.)

Most impressively, I believe, at the time of his retirement, Krieg was 15th all-time in the history of the NFL with a quarterback rating of 81.5. With the wide-open passing offenses of today’s game in which a rating of 90 is basically average, he’s dropped quite a bit in this category, but 15th at the time of his retirement is nothing to scoff at. That’s higher than a bunch of Hall of Famer quarterbacks.

But, to the con side. The first flaw I see in the pro-Hall of Fame argument for Krieg is that football is somewhat different from baseball in that having big “moments” on the “big stage” matters more in football than in baseball. In baseball, a position player gets 2,000 to 3,000 games and a pitcher 500-600 starts in which to build a Hall of Fame resumé. In the NFL, players get 150-200 games to build their Hall of Fame cases if they’re lucky. In fact, a number of NFL Hall of Famers barely played 100 games total. (Otto Graham, considered one of the greatest quarterbacks ever, only ever started 114 games.)

So, “moments” count. Let’s compare Krieg’s career to Joe Montana’s. They played in virtually the same era in the 80s and 90s (Krieg even backed Montana up a couple of years in Kansas City) and started virtually the same number of games (164 for Montana, 175 for Krieg). Montana had 273 TDs, Krieg 261. Montana had 40,550 yards passing, Krieg 38,147. Pretty close in both categories. Montana did have far fewer interceptions (139 for Montana and 199 for Krieg.) Montana also had a much higher career passing rating — 92.3 versus 81.5 for Krieg.

However, here is the HUGE difference between them, and why you simply cannot really compare Krieg to Montana. Montana went 16-7 in the postseason and won four Super Bowls, and in fact, played great in all four of those Super Bowls, winning three Super Bowl MVPs. He also had of course, the other huge “moment” with “The Catch” to beat the Cowboys in the NFC championship in 1982.

Krieg simply doesn’t have anything even remotely like this on his resume. Krieg went 3-6 in the postseason with a passing rating of 72.3. Krieg actually won his first two postseason games, then went 1-6 over the rest of his career. His one big chance on the “big stage” so to speak, in the AFC championship game vs. the Raiders in 1983, he wilted — badly — going 3-for-9 with 3 interceptions. He was pulled at halftime for Jim Zorn. Krieg not only never won a Super Bowl, he never even played in one. So, he played totally under the radar.

Right or wrong, that matters when you talk about Hall of Fame time in the NFL. Guys like Terry Bradshaw and especially Bob Griese are in the Hall of Fame based primarily on their postseason success. Griese honestly wasn’t that great of a quarterback statistically, but he’s in the Hall of Fame because he played in three Super Bowls and won two of them (He threw a whopping 41 passes combined in those three Super Bowls). True, Dan Fouts never got to a Super Bowl and Dan Marino never won one, but Marino owned almost every single passing record there was when he retired and he did win an AFC title and he managed to go 6-5 in the postseason. Fouts was second all-time in passing yardage and fourth in TD passes when he retired.

Quarterback John Brodie (12) of the San Francisco 49ers hands off the ball, 1971.©James Flores/NFL Photos
Quarterback John Brodie (12) of the San Francisco 49ers hands off the ball, 1971.©James Flores/NFL Photos

Here is a bigger issue I believe with Krieg being in the Hall of Fame. This is something I really enjoyed researching. There are a number of quarterbacks in the NFL who were either MVPs or first-team All-Pros or who won Super Bowls or who were Super Bowl MVPs who are not in the Hall of Fame. Krieg made three Pro Bowls, but he was never a First-Team Pro Bowler. He never won an MVP nor was he ever an AP Offensive Player of the Year nor did he play in a Super Bowl. He never led the league in passing yardage or TDs or passer rating. He simply played reasonably well for a long time.

There have only been 27 quarterbacks named to the NFL Hall of Fame since World War II. It just took Ken Stabler 33 years after his retirement to make the Hall of Fame. That’s how hard it is to get in. Just 27 guys in 70 years.

Ken anderson
How is Ken Anderson not in the Hall of Fame?

Let me tick off a few of these guys who are not in the Hall of Fame:

* There’s John Brodie — MVP, First-team All-Pro, led the NFL in passing yardage three times and led in TD passes twice, third all-time in the NFL in passing yardage and fourth in TDs when he retired.

* Ken Anderson — Considered by some to be the best quarterback in the AFC in the 1970s. MVP award, Offensive Player of the Year award, First-team Pro Bowler, four Pro Bowls, led the league in passer rating four times, played well in a Super Bowl loss.

* Daryle Lamonica — 5-time AFL and NFL Pro Bowler, 2-time AFL First-Team Pro Bowler, twice won AFL Player of the Year, led the AFL in TD passes twice, passing yardage once, won an AFL Championship and played in a Super Bowl. Had an incredible won-loss record as a starter of 66-16-6.

Daryle Lamonica

* Jim Plunkett — Won two Super Bowls and a Super Bowl MVP. Had a postseason record as a starting quarterback of 8-2.

* Roman Gabriel — Won an NFL MVP, Bert Bell Player of the Year award, made four Pro Bowls, was named First-Team Pro Bowl once, was sixth in the NFL in passing yardage when he retired.

* Joe Theismann — Won a Bert Bell Player of the Year Award, won an MVP, won an Offensive Player of the Year award, was a First-Team Pro Bowler, played in two Super Bowls and won one.

* Don Meredith — Bert Bell Player of the Year award, three-time Pro Bowler, played in the famous “Ice Bowl.” And on top of that, was a well-known NFL broadcaster for decades.

* Frankie Albert — Perhaps the best quarterback from the AAFC other than Otto Graham. Twice led the AAFC in touchdown passes, and led the league one year in passer rating. Played in an AAFC championship, but lost to an almost unbeatable Graham team in Cleveland.

Frankie Albert … quarterbacks used to wear No. 63?

* John Hadl — Made six AFL and NFL Pro Bowls, led the AFL in passing yardage twice and passing TDs twice, led the NFL in passing yardage once and passing TDs once. Was in the top 10 for AFL/NFL passing yardage when he retired.

* Phil Simms — Made two Pro Bowls, threw for 33,000 yards, won a Super Bowl and won a Super Bowl MVP. Had a 95-64 record as a starter.

* Randall Cunningham — NFL MVP, Player of the Year (two separate seasons), Four Pro Bowls, and one First-Team Pro Bowler, and rushed for 4,900 yards and 35 rushing TDs, rushed for over 500 yards six times. I will talk more about Cunningham later.

* Boomer Esiason — NFL MVP, First-Team All-Pro, won a passer rating title, won an AFC championship, came within seconds of winning a Super Bowl. More on Esiason later.

* Vinny Testaverde — Believe it or not, he was actually sixth in passing yardage (46,223 yards) and seventh in passing touchdowns (275) when he retired, made two Pro Bowls, threw for 356 yards in an AFC Championship loss. I will talk more about Testaverde.

testaverde, esiason, cunningham
Vinny Testaverde, Boomer Esiason, Randall Cunningham and Dave Krieg have a lot in common

I might be missing some other guys, but I would argue that every single one of these guys with the possible exception of Testaverde should go into the Pro Football Hall of Fame before Krieg — especially Brodie, Lamonica, Theismann, Ken Anderson and Hadl. Meredith should go in as a broadcaster if nothing else.

Here’s comparisons of Krieg’s career to Esiason, Cunningham and Testaverde’s. Krieg’s career numbers are remarkably similar to Esiason’s — and they played in the same era. Krieg threw for 38,147 yards, Esiason 37,920. Krieg threw for 261 TDs, Esiason 247. Krieg’s career passer rating was 81.5, Esiason’s 81.1. However, I give Esiason the edge for winning an AFC championship, playing in a Super Bowl and coming within 39 seconds of winning (that the was the Montana-to-John Taylor Super Bowl win for the 49ers). Esiason was also an MVP and a first-team All-Pro one year and once led the NFL in passer rating. Krieg did none of these things.

Dave Krieg was a pretty good quarterback for a really long time, but so many other genuinely legendary quarterbacks are still not in the Hall of Fame.

Krieg and Randall Cunningham also had identical career passer ratings — they both ended up at 81.5, and again, they played in the same era, so it’s fair to compare them though they were different kinds of quarterbacks. Here’s the difference — Cunningham won an MVP and a Player of the Year award in two separate seasons, was a First-Team Pro Bowler and had 4,900 rushing yards, rushing for over 500 yards six times. He was the first quarterback who could both run and play effective QB and led the way for guys like Steve Young, Russell Wilson and Cam Newton. Based on those factors, I’d put Cunningham in before Krieg.

In many ways, other than Esiason, the player whose career best mirrored Krieg’s was Vinny Testaverde. I don’t think there’s a big hue and cry for Testaverde to be in the Hall of Fame, but as I mentioned earlier, he was sixth in passing yardage and seventh in TDs when he retired. He is still in the top 10 in passing yardage nine years after he retired. He turned into a pretty good quarterback the second half of his career, but for the most part he was like Krieg, a guy that was good enough to find a team to play for, a guy who never got seriously hurt, was a bit of a journeyman, played forever on mostly mediocre teams, had a period of success with the Jets and compiled a ton of passing stats. Honestly, if you put Krieg in the Hall of Fame, I believe you have to put Testaverde in, too.

So, while I started out wanting to slag Dave Krieg and prove some nitwit wrong and point out all of his interceptions and fumbles and sacks (three areas Krieg actually was pretty weak in), what I found out is that there’s a remarkable list of quarterbacks who have never made the Pro Football Hall of Fame and I enjoyed learning more about them; these are some truly legendary players and some of whom have been waiting decades to get in.

Halloween fun ride in Second Life

halloween 45_001

Wow, did I ever find a fun Halloween ride in Second Life.

I had been looking for two or three weeks for a good Halloween-themed sim (what areas in Second Life are called). Halloween is one of my favourite holidays, maybe because I never got to celebrate it much as a kid. Some were OK, mostly cute, some had lots of free stuff (I like my ghost plush), but none of them were actually frightening. There was one ride that was pretty good, simply called Haunted House. It had stuff in it from The Ring, HellRaiser and Psycho. But, no real frights and a bit choppy on my computer.

halloween 39_001
Third-person view, but first-person view works better. Also, I am viewing this with more light than you’re supposed to so I could make screenshots. Otherwise, it’s too dark.

Then, SL recommended this sim called Portal Park 1 that had a Halloween theme to it. At first, this sim was like the others — free prizes, lots of pumpkins, etc. Then I saw a path to a ride.

It turns out this ride is great! It was much more fun than the previous rides. It’s an absolute blast. You have to switch to a first-person view for it to really work right (which I figured out after I had finished riding it). It reminded me a lot of an old arcade video game called Carnevil.

You ride in a casket, and unlike most of SL, which you use a third-person view, you switch to first-person. The casket enters a spooky old haunted house, then drops down fast like a roller coaster.

halloween 41_001You first ride through a creepy insane asylum where inmates have written “Evil is Here” in blood on the walls. This part of the ride really reminded me of the creepy insane asylum in “The House on Haunted Hill.”

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This is how you’re supposed to view the ride.

The ride gets more gruesome as the insane asylum turns into a bloody slaughterhouse with inmates instead of livestock hanging from hooks. Very R-rated gruesome. Not for kiddies at all. It reminded me very much of some of the gruesome backgrounds in the “Bioshock” games. Other parts of the ride remind me of the old, original “Half Life” game.

There’s a couple of genuine “jump out of your seat” jolts here. Let’s just say stuff comes completely out of nowhere.

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The passageway into the Poltergeist TV.

The casket drops down a chute very fast and you end up going through a dark tunnel, with creepy eyes watching you from a distance. Ultimately, you go right through a television, ending up in another haunted house with a girl talking to a television.

This is very much taken from “Poltergeist,” with pictures on the walls changing into frightening images as you draw closer (This part of the ride appeared to be glitchy. One of the times I rode it, the pictures were lying on the floor when I entered the room.). Toys and a very creepy baby doll start flying around the room, as do you (this part is great in first-person).

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The paintings on the wall in the second Haunted House changing.

You end up leaving the second haunted house with the creepy little Poltergeist girl watching you, and you end up in a sinking mudhole with a bunch of skeletons, holding up signs with lots of “in” jokes for Second Lifers.

That’s the ride. It lasts a good 10 minutes, which is pretty big for Second Life (I rode another Halloween ride that lasted less than five minutes and was honestly a bit lame compared to the Portal Park 1 ride.). I was really, really impressed with the amount of work and energy these people put into their ride … and it was free, too. The only thing, I wished it had had some creepy music playing during the ride. Unfortunately, I could never find out who was the person behind the sim because I would have gladly donated to help keep it going.

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The room of spinning toys. This room is great.


The creepy girl in the Haunted House.


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A pumpkin snowman — a prize I picked up!

Haruko’s Baseball Hall of Fame candidates — 2015 update

This is a follow-up to a piece I wrote in April about which current Major League Baseball players I thought had a good shot at making the Hall of Fame.

Which Major League Baseball players helped boost their Hall of Fame chances this season? Several did. I’m going to add a couple of names I didn’t talk about in April, but I won’t touch on every single player I wrote about six months ago. One very interesting theme about several of the players who helped state their case — some of them got off to a really slow start this season, but then played outstanding in the second half of their seasons.

Guys who really helped their cases

Clayton Kershaw

clayton kershawClayton Kershaw, after a slow start this season — at one point he was only 5-6 — won 11 out of his last 12 decisions to end up at 16-7, with a solid 2.13 ERA and 301 strikeouts. Those would be Cy Young-winning numbers in a lot of seasons, but Kershaw will almost assuredly finish third behind Jake Arrieta and Zack Greinke. Kershaw has now won 114 games (114-56, .671 winning percentage), has a career ERA of 2.44 and has won three Cy Youngs — all at the age of 27. After this season, he will have five top-3 finishes in the Cy Young vote. He is almost certain to go to the Hall of Fame. He should have at least 140 wins before the age of 30 and could have over 150. With any luck and good health, he should be over 200 wins before the age of 35. Kershaw also pitched well for the first time in the postseason this year, so that’s no longer a knock on him. Speaking of Greinke:

Zack Greinke

greinkeI didn’t talk about Greinke in April, but after this season, you have to consider him a serious Hall of Fame candidate. He went 19-3 this season and led the NL with a 1.66 ERA. He will finish either first or second in the Cy Young voting (his numbers are so close to Jake Arrieta’s either guy could win. I give a slight edge to Arrieta.). Greinke already has one Cy Young award. Over the past five seasons, Greinke is an incredible 82-26 (a .759 winning percentage). He has 142 wins at the age of 31, so it’s very possible for him to get to 200 wins by the age of 36. I think he still needs to do a bit more. He isn’t a sure-fire Hall of Famer like Kershaw.

Felix Hernandez

felixFelix actually had one of his poorest seasons in recent years, yet he still went 18-9 (he did have a respectable 3.53 ERA — for him that’s high). Felix was helped this season by a lot of run support (for once in his career) and a lot of decisions. He has been burned in the past somewhat by pitching for a bad offensive club that left him with a ton of no-decisions. Felix is now at 143-101 for his career and is still only 29. He has a good chance to reach 200 wins at the age of 33. He has won one Cy Young and finished second in the Cy Young voting twice. He cracked 2,000 strikeouts this season and will likely crack 3,000 before he is done.

David Ortiz

david-ortiz-baseball-headshot-photoOrtiz had a huge year for a 39-year-old player. He hit 37 home runs, the most he has hit since 2006. He also added 108 RBIs. Most importantly, he cracked 500 home runs for his career. He is 30th all-time in RBIs with 1,640. After next year, I expect Ortiz to be in the top 20 all-time in home runs and 22nd all-time in RBIs. Obviously, Ortiz has the numbers for an automatic Hall of Fame inclusion (especially if you consider his incredible postseason numbers), except there are two complications that are going to hurt Ortiz in the HOF vote. The first is he’s been a DH most of his career, and no pure DH has gone into the Hall yet (Frank Thomas played about 56 percent of his career at DH) and the bigger issue is a positive test for a banned substance leaked to the New York Times in 2003. No one knows what Ortiz tested positive for and he insists supplements triggered the positive result. I think if Mike Piazza gets in the Hall of Fame, which he almost surely will this year (he got 69 percent of the vote last year), that should help Ortiz’s case, because there’s some really strong suspicions Piazza juiced (in fact, he has admitted taking Andro) and more writers are starting to dismiss  “suspicions” for keeping a guy out of the HOF. It will also help if Jeff Bagwell gets in, too, because there’s “suspicions” about him as well. I don’t know how the vote will go with Ortiz. The only prediction I will make is he won’t get in the Hall on the first ballot mostly because of the 2003 incident. But at least there will be no question about whether Ortiz’s stats are worthy of the HOF.

Adrian Beltre

Adrian beltreLike Kershaw, Beltre had a slow start this season, then a huge second half that helped his HOF case. He was only hitting .255 at the All-Star break, but was red-hot the last two months of the season, ending up at .287, 18 HRs and 83 RBIs. His power numbers were down a bit, but that won’t hurt him — he topped 400 career home runs this year (he currently sits at 413 HRs). Most importantly, he had 163 hits this year, which puts him at 2,767 hits, only 233 short of 3,000 at the age of 36. He could get to 3,000 hits by July or August of 2017 when he is 38. That is automatic HOF. He’s close to automatic already with four Gold Gloves on top of all those hitting stats. There’s only eight guys in MLB history who have collected both 3,000 hits and 400 home runs. Beltre could be the ninth.

Robinson Cano

robinson canoI cracked up at all the Yankee fans in a baseball group I am in who earlier this year were constantly teeing off on Cano and what a terrible free agent signing he was for the Mariners. He was another player who had a slow first half. He was hitting just .235 in July, then much like Beltre, absolutely scorched the second half, ending up at .287 with 21 HRs and 79 RBIs. That doesn’t hurt his chances at all. Cano is now at 2,015 hits at the age of 32. He has an outside chance of getting to 3,000 hits by the age of 39. Even if he doesn’t get to 3,000 hits, with 239 HRs already at second base (likely over 300 by the time he is done) and a .307 lifetime average, I think he has a very good shot at the HOF.

Madison Bumgarner

bumgarnerIf Bumgarner had never pitched an inning in the postseason, I’m not sure I’d even be talking about him. But, his postseason numbers are so epic, you have to mention him as a HOF candidate. Bumgarner went 18-9 this season; he now has 85 wins (85-59 overall) and is still just 26 years old. He could easily have 140 wins at the age of 30. What also helps his case is being 4-0 (with a mind-blowing 0.25 ERA) in the World Series, and having an NLCS MVP and a World Series MVP.

Joey Votto

joey vottoVotto doesn’t get a lot of HOF hype, but some of his career numbers are incredible. He had a very good bounceback season after a lot of injuries last year. He hit .314 with 29 home runs and 80 RBIs, his best season since 2011. Votto also walks a lot and puts up incredible on-base percentage and OPS numbers. His career batting average is .311, his career OBP is .423 and his career OPS is .957 (his OPS this year was 1.001.). His career OPS is 18th all-time, ahead of guys like Mel Ott, Henry Aaron, Willie Mays and Ty Cobb. Votto has lost about a season-and-a-half to injuries, so his cumulative numbers aren’t great. He is still only 32. I think he needs to have at least another four or five really solid years (.290-plus, 20 HRs-plus) to get serious Hall of Fame consideration.

Mike Trout

Mike TroutMike Trout hit 40 home runs for the first time in his career and ended up with 41. He has an incredible 139 home runs at the age of 24. Seriously, he could have well over 300 home runs before he hits 30. For the fourth straight year, he will probably finish first or second in the MVP voting. He’s also a .304 career hitter so far and a great defensive player (though he has never won a Gold Glove, surprisingly).

Buster Posey

buster poseyBuster Posey quietly had another great season. He hit .318 with 19 HRs and 95 RBIs. He is a .310 career hitter, which is outstanding for a catcher, though the Giants are playing him 40 or 50 games a year at first base to keep him in the lineup every day. He may move to first base permanently one day because he’s such a good hitter.

Mark Teixeira

teixeiraTeixeira had another mixed, injury-riddled season. However, he did have his best power numbers since 2011 with 31 home runs. He was on pace for a monster bounceback season with 45 or more home runs when he went down in August with a fractured leg. He has really battled injuries the last four or five years. The only reason I include Teixeira is those 31 home runs did put him at 394 for his career, within legitimate range of 500. He will be 36 years old next year and he could easily hit 106 home runs in the next four years, putting him at 500 before the age of 40 and pretty much automatic Hall of Fame. I think the only way he gets in the Hall is if he gets to 500 home runs. He could be on the outside looking in like Carlos Delgado and Fred McGriff if he ends up at like 480 home runs.  Hurting Teixeira is the fact that he hasn’t managed to hit even .260 since 2009 (He has batted .244 over the past six seasons).

Guys that neither went up or down

Albert Pujols

pujolsPujols had his best power season since 2010 with 40 home runs, putting him at 560. He had his worst year ever as far as batting, however, at .244. Pujols is already automatic for the Hall of Fame, with likely 600 home runs and 3,000 hits before he is done (He is at 2,666 hits and will be 36 next year). A bigger question with Pujols is can he break Barry Bonds’ home run record of 762? — assuming A-Rod doesn’t break it first. Say Pujols plays seven more years, retiring at the age of 42. He needs 203 home runs to break the record, meaning he needs to average 29 home runs a season over his final seven seasons. Difficult, but plausible. A-Rod is 40 and is at 687 home runs. He would have to play until he is 43 and average 25 home runs a year for three years to do it. I think it’s a longshot for both guys.


IchiroIchiro had a very poor season. He ended up at .229 for the season. He was batting .248 at the All-Star break, so his second half was particularly awful. Ichiro says he plans to come back another year, but we’ll see if a team will take a 42-year-old guy who hit .229 last year. He is at 2,935 hits, tantalisingly close to 3,000. He could conceivably get to 3,000 hits with about another 250 at-bats. I really don’t think he needs to get to 3,000 hits to get in the Hall of Fame, but it would help his case.

Dustin Pedroia

Ft. Myers, FL, February 17, 2013: (Photo by Michael Ivins/Boston Red Sox)Pedroia was on pace to have a great season in 2015, but then ended up having another injury-riddled year. He lost about two months of playing time to a torn hamstring. Still, he put up decent numbers this season — .291, 12 HRs, 42 RBIs in only 93 games. He needs to stay healthy if he wants to make the Hall of Fame. He’s lost nearly 100 games the past two seasons to injuries. He is still only 32 and could have another five or six solid years left. He is a .299 career hitter and has won an MVP, ROY and four Gold Gloves.

Giancarlo Stanton

stantonGiancarlo Stanton is another guy who just can’t avoid the injury bug. He was on his way to having a monster season, on pace for nearly 60 home runs when he got hurt in June. Still, he hit 27 home runs this season and is at 181 home runs at the age of 25. That’s after missing 190 games the past four seasons. Imagine the numbers he could put up if he could actually stay in the lineup for 150 games a year.

Miguel Cabrera

miguel-cabreraCabrera had a weirdly off year. He was hurt a lot; he missed 43 games and he only hit 18 home runs and drove in 76 runs, which are really low numbers for him. But, he did win his fourth batting title by hitting .338. Cabrera at this point is probably an automatic Hall of Famer already. He’s a .321 career hitter, has hit over 400 home runs and has two MVPs. At 2,331 hits and 408 home runs at the age of 32, he should get to 3,000 hits and 500 home runs in another five years when he will still only be 37.

Max Scherzer

scherzerScherzer’s kind of an outside chance guy anyway. He had a strange year. In many ways, it was his best season. He had a 2.79 ERA (his best ever), 276 strikeouts (his best ever) and threw two no-hitters in one season. However, pitching for an underachieving Washington team, he only went 14-12. Still, he is only 31 and is 105-62 in his career. With any luck, he could have 170-180 wins by the age of 36.

Guys whose HOF stock went down

CC Sabathia

SabathiaIt’s hard to believe that at one time, Sabathia was a good candidate to reach 300 wins. He went 6-10 this year and has won only 9 games the past two seasons (9-14 combined over two years). The past three seasons, Sabathia’s ERA has been over 4.50 (4.81 combined the past three seasons). However, he just entered alcohol rehab, so perhaps this has been part of his recent problems. Sabathia is sitting at 214 wins. He is still only 35, so there is time for him to turn his career around. A couple of more decent seasons, say at 15-10 with an ERA under 4.00, he’ll be at the doorstep of 250 wins and Hall of Fame consideration. When I brought up his name as a Hall of Famer in a baseball group, a lot of people guffawed, but I think people forget how dominant he was for 11-12 years. At one point in his career, his won-loss record was 191-102 and he had a Cy Young trophy and four other top-5 Cy Young finishes.

Justin Verlander

justin verlanderVerlander is another guy like Sabathia who is a shell of his former dominating self. Three years ago, Verlander looked like a sure-fire Hall of Famer. But, after two sub-par years, he had another down and injured year this season, going 5-8 (his ERA was OK at 3.38.) Verlander is only 32 and has 157 wins, but he needs to turn his numbers around to make the Hall of Fame. His last really good season was in 2012.





George Case … one of the fastest men to ever play the game … and his son’s message about tobacco

George Case

I hope I’m not stepping on Pepe’s toes here, but here is a rare submission from me about smoking.

George Case was a ballplayer I had never heard of before. Over the past few months, I’ve been reading the comments from his son in a baseball group I belong to. Some very powerful, poignant comments.

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Joe DiMaggio and George Case both died of tobacco-related illnesses. No cause of death is listed for Bucky Walters.

George Case was an outstanding baseball player, mostly for the Washington Senators, in the 1930s and 1940s. One of the reasons I had never heard of him before is that his career was very short — he only played nine full years and retired at the age of 31 due to back problems. But, he was very, very good. He led the league in stolen bases six times, stealing as many as 61 bases in a season during an era in which there weren’t a lot of stolen bases (In fact, in 1939, George Case led all of Major League Baseball in stolen bases with 51; the next highest total that season was 23 — wow, what a gap!). He stole 349 bases in that short career (averaging 41 steals a year over eight seasons), hit .282 for his career, made three All-Star teams, scored over 100 runs four times and hit over .300 three times.

According to Wikipedia, Case was “possibly the fastest player in baseball between the 1920s and the 1950s.” He got a handful of Hall of Fame votes, but his career was simply too short to get a lot of Hall of Fame attention. Case went on to own a sporting goods store and was a successful coach at Rutgers, then later coached for the Washington Senators and Minnesota Twins.

One of the reasons George’s name keeps coming up in the group is that people like to post vintage smoking baseball smoking ads. Pepe’s done a couple of posts about these ads, and about how many of those baseball players died from lung disease or cancer. People like to make fun of these old ads, but there’s a dark undercurrent to them — these guys either wittingly or unwittingly were promoting a deadly product and many of them died from tobacco-related illnesses themselves (Babe Ruth, Roger Maris, Gil Hodges, Joe DiMaggieo, so many others.). Often times when tobacco and baseball comes up, George Case III enters the discussion, talking about his dad and advocating very strong against smoking. He has a powerful story to tell.

george caseGeorge Case, like many ballplayers of his time, starred in cigarette advertising. Case promoted Camel cigarettes. He died of lung disease at the age of 73. He actually starred in a Camels ad along with Joe DiMaggio, a heavy smoker who died of complications from lung cancer.

George’s son, George Case III, has told some powerful stories about his dad’s tobacco use and his death from lung disease. Here are a couple of them:

I smoked when I was in college and had a health scare and was told to give up the cigarettes which I did “cold turkey.” 50 years later I’m so glad I did because I am now older than my father was when he died because of smoking. He lived long enough to know all three of our children, who loved him and enjoyed being with him. None of our grandchildren would have the chance to know Pop-Pop. Our grandchildren only have heard stories and seen photos of their great grandfather. If it hadn’t been for the cigarettes, I’m certain they would have loved being around their great grandfather listening to his baseball stories. They hear the baseball stories from their grandfather but it’s not quite the same, unfortunately!

According to George Case III, his father only ever lost a race to Jesse Owens himself, who also died of lung disease:

From personal experience I can tell you this. My dad was the fastest player in the major leagues during his baseball career. And he was a heavy smoker. At the time, it probably had very little affect on his running, as he was a young man. The only person to ever defeat my father in a race was Jesse Owens (at the time, “the world’s fastest human”) – also a heavy smoker. HOWEVER, cigarette smoking did catch up to my father and Jesse Owens, later in life. The last few years of my dad’s life, he needed to have a portable oxygen tank and could barely walk across a room without getting winded. He used to say “if it hadn’t been for those damn cigarettes” My father died of emphysema and Jesse Owens died of lung cancer. If the dangers of cigarette smoking were known at the time, I’m certain the vast majority of athletes who smoked, never would have. Unfortunately, too late for so many – like closing the barn door after the horse had escaped!

(Surprisingly, even Pepe didn’t realise Jesse Owens had died of lung cancer, but sure enough George III is right. He did. He smoked over a pack a day and died at the age of 67.).

So, I appreciate George III’s advocacy and his passion and his honesty, and Pepe does, too. His dad sounds like he was an amazing man and an amazing ballplayer somewhat lost in the sands of history.

“Redline” — Speed Racer on steroids and the slow, sad death of an amazing art form

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“Redline” is one of the most technically amazing and wildest films I’ve ever seen. It is also a mostly unknown film outside of Japan.

Redline took an amazing seven years to make. Why did it take so long? Because it contains more than 100,000 individually hand-drawn cells. That’s 100,000 different paintings done … by hand.

Redline 1That right there explains why hand-drawn animation is a dying art form; Pixar and DreamWorks using computer power can crank out two or three feature films a year. Pixar movies are cute and there’s no questioning the quality of the work done on these computer-animated films. But it’s still kind of sad to see hand-drawn animation slowly fading. It’s nearly gone in the U.S. Even a lot of the animation you see on Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon is actually computer animation made to look hand-drawn.Redline 11

Hand-drawn animation is simply hard, grueling, time- and labour-intensive compared to what you can do with computers. Where hand-drawn animation is staying alive is in Japan (and even in Japan computer animation is slowly taking over.).

Which brings us to “Redline.” The work on “Redline” began way back in 2003. The movie was delayed several times and was not released until 2010. (I’ve tried to find out how well it did in Japan, but information about it is limited.). It saw a limited release in the U.S., but has gained a cult following through people renting or buying the DVDs or watching it online.

Redline24It was the first full-length feature film made by Takeshi Koike (the only other thing of his I’ve seen is the opening animation to Samurai Champloo and a segment of “Animatrix” called “World Record.” When I first saw “Redline,” I was immediately reminded of that chapter from Animatrix and figured it had to be the same animator. His style is quite unique and unlike anything else you see in anime.).Redline 12

It is an absolutely visual feast and one the strangest and most unique anime you’ll ever see. Very much like a Hiyao Miyazaki movie, you can watch the film a couple of dozen times and see things you didn’t catch before. An anime technique, which was originally done to save money but became a staple of the anime ethos, is the use of still-frame. Long, still close-ups of characters with little or no movement was done to cut costs to begin with, but it became a source of dramatic tension the anime world.Redline 22

There’s none of that in “Redline.” In virtually every frame, there is a ton of movement, not only from the main characters, but in the background. Constant, non-stop movement both in the forefront and the background is the staple of this film. It’s simply mind-blowing to watch this 105-minute film (and that’s short by Japanese standards) and to think, “my goodness, this is ALL hand-drawn?” It just doesn’t seem possible.Redline 21

“Redline” takes place in an alien world in which racers compete in tricked-out vehicles in no-holds-barred races without rules or boundaries. There are few traditional anime-appearing characters. Most of the characters are odd-looking aliens. The main character, J.P., looks like a rockabilly reject from the 1950s and doesn’t look like anything you would see in most anime (I’ve been told he somewhat resembles a character called Space Dandy, but I’ve never seen that old anime.).Redline 18

The closest any character comes to appearing like a traditional anime is a woman driver named Shonosee McClaren. (Big eyes and of course amply bosomed — there is the almost obligatory nude fanservice scene with Shonosee. You see so much of this is Japanese anime, you just kind of become numb to the inherent sexism there, like why is she the only character we get to see nude. It’s simply part of the ingrained culture of anime and I don’t try to defend it. It’s from Japan and it is what it is.)Redline 15

The film borrows heavily from a number of other anime and even some non-anime films. There are scenes which will make you think of “Speed Racer,” though it’s a massively bulked up version of that ancient anime. Shonosee even drives a car that looks a little bit like the Mach 5 from “Speed Racer.”

The races also reminded me of the pod races from Star Wars I; there’s scenes that harken to the “Road Warrior.” The character of “Funky Boy” a giant, grotesque biological weapon, reminded me of both the mutant Tetsuo in “Akira” and the Giant Warrior of “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind.” The mutant monster that Col. Volton becomes reminded me of the gluttonous No Face from “Spirited Away.”

Redline 7Another character, Old Man Mole reminded me of the six-armed character Kamaji from “Spirited Away” (At this point, I was expected the soot balls from “Spirited Away” to show up.) The floating laser cannons reminded me of the diamond star gates of “2001: A Space Odyssey.” There’s a battle scene that reminded me of the big opening battle scene from Star Wars III.

I don’t think all of these reminders were by accident. One could accuse “Redline” of being derivative, but I love homages and “Redline” throws so many homages out there that it doesn’t feel like it’s simply ripping off older films. It just feels like part of the over-the-top, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink vibe to the whole film.

Redline 2“Redline” is not an especially deep or ponderous movie. In the end, it’s simply a silly, weirded-out space race movie, and it’s bloody fun to watch. The fact that this film took seven years to make doesn’t bode well I think for the continuation of hand-drawn animation. The future has arrived and films like “Redline” will become more and more a rarity.

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Redline has been pulled from YouTube for copyright infringement. Here are some AMVs:

Haruko’s 2015 baseball preview extravaganza — The Hall of Fame, who’s going in?

Having read a lot of discussions lately about Gil Hodges, the baseball Hall of Fame and what makes a Hall of Famer, it got me thinking: “How many current players are Hall of Famer?”

I came up with my own list and I broke it down into five categories: No-Brainer Hall of Famers, Likely Hall of Famers, Off to a Good Start for the Hall of Fame, They Have a Shot at the Hall of Fame … and the fifth category is … David Ortiz. I came up with two “No-Brainers,” four “Likely Hall of Famers” and a whole slew of “Too Early to Tell, but Off to a Good Start” and “They Have a Shot” Hall of Famers. Ortiz is a unique situation that I’ll explain.

albert pujols
Albert Pujols

Hall of Fame discussions fascinate me. There are obviously easy picks for the Hall of Fame — guys like Randy Johnson and next year Ken Griffey Jr. are slam dunks, then there are the guys that are a bit borderline, guys like Craig Biggio or Barry Larkin. They’re the ones who create interesting debate. One thing that cracks me up in a Facebook discussion group are people who get sincerely angry over what they see as “unworthy” people in the Hall of Fame — somehow thinking that guys like Biggio and Larkin or Don Sutton somehow “disgrace” or water down “real Hall of Famers” like Babe Ruth and Henry Aaron and Lou Gehrig. I honestly don’t understand that view. I truly don’t. I feel like there’s bigger things in the world to be angry about — like great players like Dick Allen or Gil Hodges who for whatever mystifying reason simply cannot get in the Hall … or global warming … or Citizens United. Those are things worth getting angry about. I think there are probably some unworthy guys in the Hall, mostly old-timers put in via the Veterans Committee back in the day when the committee was beset by too much cronyism.

Clayton Kershaw

There are more than 17,000 men who have ever played Major League Baseball, and a whopping 215 of them are in the Hall of Fame as players. That’s 1.2 percent. That’s one player out of 80 who has ever played. That means 98.8 percent of the guys who have ever played in the entire history of baseball are not Hall of Famers. I don’t think it somehow detracts from Babe Ruth or Henry Aaron’s accomplishments if that number is 1.3 or 1.4 percent. They’re all the elite of the elite no matter what.

Anyway, here is my list of current players. Tell me what you think.

No-Brainer Hall of Famers

Albert Pujols

Already has 500 home runs, has won a Rookie of the Year award, three MVPs and a .317 lifetime hitter. He’s a first-ballot lock. His numbers have dropped off in recent years, but he should still make it to 3,000 hits. He is at 2,500 hits and is still only 35. He should also crack 600 home runs.



Simply the best Japanese player ever. He is 41 and is sitting at 2,844 hits, so he may not make 3,000. I don’t think he needs to get 3,000 hits to make the Hall of Fame. If you include his Japan League numbers, he actually has more than 4,000 hits. In one 10-year stretch, he averaged an incredible 224 hits a year. And he has stolen nearly 500 bases and has an MVP and Rookie of the Year award and 10 Gold Gloves — add to that a .317 lifetime average. I’m a little critical of his low OPS (.771), but that won’t hurt his HOF vote.

Likely Hall of Famers

Clayton Kershaw

Really, I probably could have put him in the No-Brainer category, but he simply hasn’t played enough years yet. He already has three Cy Young awards. He is 98-49 for his career and incredibly is still only 27 and has only pitched seven years. He could win 150 games before the age of 30. He has also struck out over 200 batters five times.

Miguel Cabrera

A rare triple crown winner, three-time batting champ, has won two MVP awards, .320 lifetime hitter, led the league in home runs twice, 390 home runs and 2,186 hits and he is still only 32. Barring major injuries, he should easily reach 3,000 hits (he should do it by the time he is 37) and 500 home runs. Even if he doesn’t hit those milestones, he likely gets in the Hall of Fame.

Robinson Cano

A lot of people seem to forget about this guy. He is a .310 hitter with 218 home runs as a second baseman. He has won two Gold Gloves and has finished in the top six of the MVP voting six times. He is also only 32. In another five years (at the age of 36), he could have over 300 home runs, 2,500 hits and 1,300 RBIs.

Adrian Beltre

adrian beltre
Adrian Beltre

Barring injury, Beltre should actually reach 3,000 hits before Pujols. He is at 2,600 hits and will be 36 in April. He also has 395 career home runs and four Gold Gloves. If he stays healthy, he should reach 3,000 hits by the age of 38. When he does, he will be only the ninth player ever with 3,000 hits and 400 home runs (one of those is Alex Rodriguez). I doubt he gets to 500 home runs, but he doesn’t need to. 3,000 hits is automatic Hall of Fame, but if he falls short, he should get in anyway. It just might take him longer.

David Ortiz’s own special category

David Ortiz

I couldn’t figure out what category to put David Ortiz in, so I just put him in his own category because Ortiz creates a unique debate. I’ve seen in a baseball group on Facebook that he is the most polarising player in the game other than Pete Rose, which surprised me, because I’m used to Boston fans who love him. Ortiz is pretty close to Hall of Fame numbers just looking at his raw stats, including 466 regular season home runs and 17 postseason home runs (His postseason resume includes a World Series MVP and an ALCS MVP). He also has 10 All-Star appearances and has finished in the top five of the MVP voting five times. I think it will help his case a lot if he can reach 500 home runs. Look at Fred McGriff at 493 home runs who can’t get in the Hall of Fame.

However, Ortiz presents a bit of a conundrum for two reasons. One is he’s been a DH most of his career and secondly, there are pretty strong suspicions that he has juiced. Looking at the DH question, I’d respond that there’s already two players in the Hall of Fame who played a lot of games at DH — Frank Thomas and Paul Molitor. Thomas played over half of his games (1,300) at DH while Molitor played more than 1,100 games at DH. I don’t understand the Hall of Fame bias against the DH. It’s a position that has been around for more than 40 years now, and guys like Reggie Jackson and Harmon Killebrew didn’t get in the Hall of Fame because they played the field.

The bigger issue with Ortiz is going to be the PED suspicions. Ortiz tested positive for something in 2003. He insists it was a supplement. No one knows what it is; that information has never been released. I try to point this out when people say Ortiz tested positive for steroids — “No, you don’t know that for a fact, you don’t know what he tested positive for.” I think the suspicions will hurt his Hall of Fame vote, but one thing that I think will help Ortiz a LOT is if Mike Piazza and Jeff Bagwell are voted into the Hall of Fame ahead of him. There are also strong suspicions about Piazza (in fact, Piazza admitted he took Andro in the 1990s, back when it wasn’t against the rules of baseball and it could be bought off a shelf) and Bagwell. Piazza got 69 percent of the Hall of Fame vote in 2014 and I predict he gets in the Hall in 2015. Bagwell got 59 percent of the vote in 2014 and I think he has a legitimate shot at the Hall of Fame in 2015 when the only shoo-ins are Ken Griffey Jr. and Trevor Hoffmann. With Piazza and Bagwell, who aren’t in the Hall for one reason and one reason only — suspicion — finally making the Hall of Fame, that will help Ortiz’s case, I believe. Hall of Fame voters are starting to ignore suspicions.

Too Early to Tell, but Guys off to a Good Start

Mike Trout

He’s only in his fourth year, but he has a Rookie of the Year award, an MVP, and two second-place MVP finishes. His numbers dipped slightly last year, but he is off to such a spectacular start to his young career, he certainly looks like a Hall of Famer already.

Felix Hernandez

Felix Hernandez

Hernandez to me is close to the “likely” category. I think he needs a few more strong years to make his case. He has a Cy Young (he could have won another one last year, IMO) and has already won 125 games before the age of 29. He has twice led the league in ERA and struck out over 200 batters six times. He could pitch another 10 years and he could win another 125 games at least. We’ll see. 250 is the new 300, I believe. One of the things that has hurt him a bit is a lack of run support in Seattle, but the Mariners are putting together a better team behind him. Another thing that hurts him is for an elite pitcher, he ends up with a ton of no-decisions (86 no-decisions in 10 seasons. Again, I think lack of run support is part of the reason for that. ); It might be completely unfair, but wins is something voters look at. Hernandez has only won more than 15 games once.

Buster Posey

A Rookie of the Year, MVP winner, batting champion (as a catcher), three-time World Series winner, .308 hitter and he’s only been in the league five years. He is still only 28.

Craig Kimbrel

I’m not a big fan of the saves stat, but he has an incredible 186 saves in his first four full seasons. And an incredible 476 strikeouts in 289 innings. He won’t be 27 until May. A Rookie of the Year award winner and already has won two Rolaids Relief Pitcher awards. Top five in the Cy Young voting twice (though relief pitchers virtually never win Cy Youngs anymore).

Andrew McCutchen

Has an MVP and two other top-3 MVP finishes. .299 career hitter with power (128 home runs) and speed (143 steals) in only six years. He is only 28 and has a lot of years left.

Madison Bumgarner

Honestly, if not for his World Series exploits, I don’t know if I would put him on the list, but you can’t ignore what he has done in the postseason so far (and I believe postseason play helps with the voting). He’s been on three World Series winners, has a World Series MVP, an NLCS MVP and is 4-0 with a mind-blowing 0.25 ERA in the World Series. He is 67-49 overall in five seasons, but he is still only 25. He could have a lot of years left.

Giancarlo Stanton

Giancarlo Stanton

He’s only 25 and already has 154 career home runs. He’s had three 30+ home run seasons out of five full seasons. He needs to stay healthy. He’s had two major injuries so far. He finished second as an MVP last year. He could have over 300 home runs before he hits 30.

Guys with a Shot — get back to me in five years

I would say probably most of these guys will not make the Hall of Fame but I am throwing their names out there for the heck of it. I see these as guys who have had solid careers so far but are probably currently short of the Hall of Fame. However, with another four or five excellent years, some of them might have a chance. What I keep thinking is, honestly, five years ago, I would not have thought of Adrian Beltre as a Hall of Famer, but he has had a nice resurgence of his career in his early- to mid-30s. These guys are all capable of a similar kind of resurgence. These are people that I put in the category of “get back to me in five years and we’ll see where they’re at.”

Yadier Molina

Yadier Molina

Simply the best defensive catcher of his generation. Seven straight Gold Gloves. He doesn’t hit a lot of home runs or drive in a lot of runs (his best RBI year is 80) so his offence gets overlooked, but he’s hit over .300 four times and is a career .284 hitter. An outstanding defensive catcher hitting over .300 is nothing to sneeze at. If he ends up with 10-12 Gold Gloves and has at least a couple more years hitting over .300, you have to take him seriously for the Hall of Fame.

CC Sabathia

Believe it or not, he is still only 34 and already has 208 wins. His productivity has gone down the last couple of years and he’s had some injuries, but if he regains his health, pitches effectively for another five or six years and ends up with 260 to 270 wins, you have to take him seriously for the Hall of Fame. He has won a Cy Young and finished in the top five of the Cy Young voting four other times.

Joe Mauer

Has won three batting titles and an MVP and is a career .319 hitter. He is still only 32, so another five or six years over .300, he has a chance for the Hall of Fame. Plus, Steve Lardy gets mad if I don’t include at least one Minnesota Twin. Last year, his numbers dipped.

Dustin Pedroia

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Dustin Pedroia

A .299 hitter who has won an MVP and a Rookie of the Year award. His power numbers have dipped because of a bad thumb, but he has had surgery on the thumb. He is also an outstanding defensive player. Four Gold Gloves and amazingly has made a total of 40 errors in eight full seasons — at second base. Steve Sax once had 30 errors at second base … in one season. Pedroia averages five errors a year … at second base. His offence declined last year and he needs to regain his offensive form he had earlier in his career to have a good shot at the Hall of Fame. He’s still only 31.

Justin Verlander

152 wins in 10 seasons, an MVP, a Rookie of the Year award and a Cy Young (as well as second-place and third-place Cy Young finishes two other seasons). Led the league in strikeouts three times. His velocity and productivity have really dropped in the past two seasons, however. He is still only 32. If he can regain some of the form he had earlier in his career, gets over 200 wins, he has a shot at the Hall of Fame.

Max Scherzer

He is still only 30. He has a Cy Young and is 91-50 in six full seasons with over 200 strikeouts three straight seasons. I wouldn’t bother mentioning him, except Washington just gave him $210 million over seven years … they must know something.

Jimmy Rollins

He is only a .267 career hitter, and the only reason I’ve included him on this list is, believe it or not, he actually has a plausible chance at 3,000 hits. Jimmy Rollins is only 35 and has 2,306 hits. If he averages 140 hits over the next five years … he is at 3,000, and deserves to be in the Hall of Fame discussion. Rollins has won an MVP and once had an incredible season in which he had 30 HRs, 20 triples and 40 stolen bases. No one else has ever done that in the history of baseball. Add to that four Gold Gloves.

Jose Reyes

A somewhat underrated player, I believe. He has a batting title, led the league in triples four times and led the league in steals three times and led the league in hits once. And a .291 career hitter. He is still only 32 and could easily end up with more than 2,500 hits and 600 steals in another five years.

Adam Wainwright

He has finished in the top 3 of the Cy Young vote four times. Has won 20 games twice and 19 or more games four times. He has 119 wins at 33, and a career ERA of 3.01. If he wins about 70 games over the next five years … time to talk.

Joey Votto

He is still just 31. He had a down year last year, but before 2014, he had five seasons over .300 and five seasons with 24 or more home runs. He has won an MVP and came in sixth two other years. .310 career hitter who walks a lot (he has led the NL in OBP four times), hits a ton of doubles and has a career OPS of .950. An all-around solid player, but he needs to do more to get in the Hall.

Honourable mentions for discussion — Chase Utley, Troy Tulowitzki, Mark Buehrle, Mark Teixeira, David Price, Zack Greinke, Carlos Beltran, Evan Longoria, Tim Hudson, Justin Morneau, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jon Lester. I’m sure there’s LOTS of others who could be mentioned that I didn’t think of.






“When the answer proves elusive … never rule out Ninjas!” Freeman’s Mind — a testament to epic comedic perseverance

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After 71 episodes (68 of them official), 7 years, legal hassles and a couple of long hiatuses, Freeman’s Mind came to a climax on Dec. 31, 2014. Freeman’s Mind was the YouTube creation of Ross Scott on his YouTube Channel Accursed Farms. Scott does game reviews of old, obscure video games, he did a video series called “Civil Protection,” but his masterpiece so far, truly one of the most enormous projects ever undertaken on YouTube, was Freeman’s Mind. Scott’s technique has been copied by many, many people, and in fact, live video game commentary is pretty common now on YouTube. But, no one as far as I know kept up their projects anywhere near as long as Scott did and no one has created a character as memorable as Gordon Freeman.

Freeman’s Mind is a machinima (machine + cinema), essentially a film made from a video game. Scott started this series way back in December 2007. It’s a series of videos released roughly once every three or four weeks (averaging about 10 minutes each … so we’re talking maybe 700 minutes total) of the musings of Gordon Freeman, the otherwise silent protagonist of Half Life and Half Life 2. Gordon Freeman is mythic in gaming circles as being one of the most unique and iconic video game protagonists ever. He’s a 27-year-old physicist with a goatee and glasses who has to fight himself out of endless battles, often times armed with nothing but a crowbar.

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Scott puts himself into the head of Freeman, often times yammering mostly to himself about mundane things such as trying to avoid getting blamed for things at Black Mesa going wrong,  wanking about his coworkers and trying to figure out ways of getting away with petty crimes. (I’m including a number of Scott’s Gordon Freeman quotes. These quotes are literally endless over 70-plus videos, I’m only including a couple of dozen that I actually wrote down. Warning, the humour is R-rated, with plenty of bad language.).

“Coffee coffee coffee! Coffee! It’s not as strong as methamphetamine, but it lets you keep your teeth.”

“Whoa … a human skull. That’d go great with the rest of my collection.”

“Let’s face it, not everyone is cut out to be me. I’m a physics-crunching badass. I’m the complete package.”

“Through the power of hypnotic suggestion and a tank, I was able to convince all these people they were dead.”

“Heyyyyy … wait, I don’t know you. Don’t confuse me!”

“This is why I’m such a good theoretical physicist. I solve problems that shouldn’t even exist.”

“I have to blow everything up! It’s the only way to prove I’m not crazy!”

I never played Half Life, it came out in 1998 when I wasn’t into gaming, but I did enjoy Half Life 2, part one and having a pet ant-lion and Half Life 2, part two (and really enjoyed the Portal game that came with those games), so the Half Life universe and story of Gordon Freeman was familiar to me. I first stumbled onto Freeman’s Mind by total accident way back in 2011 (So I’m a bit late to the party, the series had been around for four years already). I think I was trying to find some way to beat a level in Portal 2, when I stumbled onto a Freeman’s Mind copycat that wasn’t very funny. The guy at the end of the video said, “what do you expect, Freeman’s Mind?” I wondered what that meant, so I searched for Freeman’s Mind on YouTube and I found about 30 episodes. I started watching, and I was hooked. It’s a huge, monstrous game.

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Scott’s videos are very addicting. His video begins with Gordon in the tram to work, as he’s complaining about being late and getting in trouble with his bosses. His main concern is sneaking into work without being caught by his supervisors. Gordon is already kind of paranoid, snapping, “who is that?” when a voice comes on the Intercom. Of course, we all know things go horribly wrong from a resonance cascade being created and aliens from Xen arriving and Earth, and Gordon has to kill them as he tries to slog his way out of his lab, Black Mesa.

“Kind of sad though, here we have this giant underground complex and all these lasers, and instead of having a rave, we’re using them for evil.”

“When the answer proves elusive, never rule out ninjas.”

“This is Innsbruck all over again. Go back to nothing!”

“‘Oh … [this is] my shit is getting wrecked face.'”

“Chess doesn’t prepare you for this. You can’t say that a rook and three pawns flanked your knight, but he laid down suppressing fire and punched through them anyway. You’d get disqualified if you tried that. Maybe I’ve been disqualified from reality.”

“The ghosts didn’t tell me to kill you, so you get to join the Freeman Fan Club.”

Gordon never speaks once in the video games, but Ross Scott creates 700 minutes or so of stream-of-consciousness ramblings and he manages to create an actual character. Scott’s Gordon Freeman is utterly amoral and narcissistic, pats himself on the back quite a bit and doesn’t have a strong sense of right or wrong and doesn’t show much concern for others in the video game. When they are killed, he will often say something to the effect of “better them than me” or “I’m sure they had it coming.”

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Gordon also every once in a while will reference some shady character in his life known as “Eddie.” Eddie seems to have a lot of drugs and skulls for sale. He sings show tunes from the HMS Pinafore along the way and for an entire episode, he talks like a pirate. He comments on the illogical quirks of his situation at Black Mesa, such as being able to blow up a tank with bullets … and guards lurking right around a corner apparently not hearing gunshots and explosions.

“That’s right. Moan. Moan! That noise is exactly what I’ll be thinking of when I try to go to sleep tonight. And I’ll be dreaming of you sucking out my eyes out with your tentacle face, while I’m nestled up against a stack of rotting corpses, then my intestines will burst with insects crawling out of them!”

“You’re the reason we have napalm. There’s no excuse for you being what you are.”

“OK, so we have some more dead people. But, we’ve established that I can murder an unlimited number of people and the universe won’t be affected in any measurable way.”

“I can’t tell if you’re just a voice in my head. So you don’t count.”

“I don’t need another Hell inside my existing Hell. Hell squared is still Hell …. what the hell is this?”

“Ohhhh … what happened? Besides me being awesome!”

“Yeah, I’m pretty sure I could take this place over. It’s ripe for colonisation. I just need to find the leader, blow his head off, and then they’ll start bowing to me.”

“You’ve been downsized … with a bullet.”

You obviously can’t watch all these videos at once; there’s simply far too many of them. You have to watch one here and watch one there. Before I knew it, I had managed to plough through all 30 of the original videos. I was disappointed that the series ended anti-climatically  with Gordon Freeman literally swimming around underwater. I didn’t realise at the time that there were apparently some legal issues with Valve or Steam, the owners of Half Life, over the use of their game to make a series of YouTube videos.

After a hiatus of several months, I noticed that Scott had started making Freeman’s Mind videos again. Whatever legal issues there were apparently had been resolved.

I was hooked again, until September 2012 when there was another long hiatus, this time on episode 44, with Gordon Freeman stuck high on a ledge on a cliff. This hiatus lasted 8 full months.

Again, I was pleasantly surprised to find out in June 2013 (I don’t even remember how I found out) that Scott had started making Freeman’s Mind videos again. His videos had been hosted on a channel called Machinima, but there were apparently some legal hassles with Machinima, so Scott formed his own Website and YouTube channel called Accused Farms. This time, he was all on his own.

“Your death will go toward a greater good … me.”

“I guess I’m going to have to consort with the dark powers here, because I’m out of ideas. OK, thank you, oh, dark ones … I pay homage.”

“I probably should keep moving because the aliens will teleport behind me and then collapse the building. And then they win, because they’re aliens, so who cares … and I’m dead.”

“At least this shotgun won’t deceive me. It’s filled with pellets … not lies.”

“The quality of my life is going straight up … now that I have a shotgun.”

“Comic book writers know as much about science as I know … well, I’m not a good example since I know almost everything.”

“Monkey on a stick! We’re getting fingered by Godzilla!”

Now there were few hassles with Freeman’s Mind, other than a lot of technical computer problems Scott talked about a few times that I didn’t totally understand. I know it’s hard to emulate 15-year-old games on today’s computers. But, he kept plugging along, and his fans kept eagerly awaiting his new videos. Along the way, he started up another series called “Ross’s Game Dungeon,” reviews of really, really obscure video games that I’m sure Scott will keep going.

Over the next 18 months, Scott released another 24 episodes, rushing a little bit at the end because he promised his fans he would complete the game by 2015. And sure enough, he kept his promise, loading the final Freeman’s Mind episode on Dec. 31, 2014. Along the way, Gordon Freeman had become a little more frantic and stressed out, prone to screaming fits of profanities, as the aliens got tougher and faster and harder to kill. I’m not sure if that’s Ross Scott’s evolution of the character over 7 years or if he consciously made Gordon Freeman more wigged out as the action gets more intense near the end of the game. You can see how tense and demented Gordon is becoming toward the end:

“Shoot away the madness! Shoot away the madness!”

“Die! Die! Die! Die again! Die more!”

“Stop shooting your white spiderweb hell milk at me!”

“A wise man once said: ‘Jesus tap-dancing Christ.'”

“OK, don’t freak out. Don’t freak out. I said don’t freak out, dammit! I’m totally not freaking out right now! Because this is me not freaking out. What do I have to freak out over anyway?”

“Fuck you reality! You’re full of shit!”

“I really hope I did kill their prophet or oracle or whatever. … if I get up there and find some religious symbols, I’m going to wear them like a hat. If I’m lucky, they’ll bow down to me, but if not, I might at least demoralise them. If I want to go the extra mile, I could cut off the leader’s head and wear it around my neck. I think even among complete aliens that still sends a pretty universal message. Aww, I probably won’t do that. It would smell awful … and I don’t have enough rope.”

“Dead explorers leave the best mementos. If it’s not supplies, you get a long, detailed log of what happened.”

“I’m totally not fighting an elder God! No, no, no, that’s not what’s happening! It’s just really big, levitates and looks like an elder God.”

“Stop being assholes! I know you can do it! I just have to teach you with my bullets! You’re not learning! Open your mind!”

I was sincerely impressed with the amount of time, energy and even heart Scott put into the project. His videos receive on the average of maybe about 100,000 hits apiece, so we’re talking probably more than 7 million hits total on the series. Along the way, several other Freeman’s Mind clones came and went on YouTube — Barney’s Mind, Chell’s Mind, etc., but none of them were as funny or well-thought out to me as Scott’s original Freeman’s Mind (there is even a video of a bunch of the people who have made these “Mind” videos getting together to discuss their work). I’m sincerely thankful for all the laughs and entertainment over the years. In the end, Scott thanks a number of people who helped with the series in a long series of credits and also highlights some of the goofy comments on Accursed Farms, including a few dozen comments of “What game is this?” (Apparently, even Half Life 2 is becoming obscure for some YouTubers today.)

Scott has hinted that he has other projects in the works. A number of people are pressuring him to continue with Freeman’s Mind through the Half Life 2 games, but if he’s burnt out on playing Gordon Freeman, that’s fine by me. After 7 years and 71 episodes, if he wants to make a clean break and do other things, more power to him. Freeman’s Mind has moved on to legendary status on the Internet.

Here is the original Freeman’s Mind from December 2007. Careful, if you watch, you might get sucked in!