Eight Stories (1/2/15): Best Pitches, The Natural And HOF Questions

8storiesLogoGood morning, and welcome to “Eight Stories” – our daily look at the baseball stories we are reading and think you should read – with just 47 days until pitchers and catchers report.

Baby New Year: Sporting News names its all time team of players born on New Years Day (or Eve), headlined by Hank Greenberg. It isn’t a bad squad. I’m partial to the October 20 team, headlined by Mickey Mantle, Juan Marichal, Juan Gonzalez and Keith Hernandez.

Best Pitches: FanGraphs takes a look at the best pitches in baseball in 2014. Not individual pitches, mind you, but Aroldis Chapman-has-the-best-fastball variety. The best individual pitches would be a much more complicated undertaking.

Hall of Fame Mystery: Brian Kenny wonders why Curt Schilling isn’t getting any Hall of Fame love – a very good question.

Speaking Of Which: The Cub Reporter takes a look at the Hall of Fame credentials of Lee Smith, who retired as the all-time saves leader in 1997.

Another One Lost: Nicholas Diunte tells the story of Bernard Fernandez, a Negro Leaguer who recently passed away at the age of 96. I once wrote a similar story for the AP, which you can read here. And, by all means get yourself to the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City.

Yankees: Michael Brown at Pinstripe Alley ponders the “most underappreciated Yankees” – which, by definition, are more appreciated than any Astro.

The Natural: Rob Neyer revisited the iconic baseball movie – with the increasingly grating musical theme – 30 years after its release. Like me, Neyer says he doesn’t love it as much as he once did – but still gives it a thumbs up.

Hanging It Up: After seven years, Kyle Lobner is hanging it up at The Frosty Mug – an invaluable daily Milwaukee Brewers link compilation. Here’s hoping he finds a new – paying – home for the Mug.

And happy birthday to Bill Madlock (64), Jim Essian (64), Edgar Martinez (52), David Cone (52), Royce Clayton (45) and Jeff Suppan (40)

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