It Is Hall Time
Today is the day Baseball votes on the Hall of Fame. It is also the day Virginia Tech votes on its Hall of Shame.
The focus this year is on the bullpen. It takes a vote on 75% of the ballots to make it into the Hall of Fame.
Guys who have fallen short in years past include one of the first true closers, Bruce Sutter and fellow reliever and closer Rich Gossage.
Bruce Sutter should be a lock. He ushered in one of the biggest changes to the game (the closer) prior to the steroid era and popularized the split finger pitch, one of the biggest pitching innovations in the game. Sutter was still not used as a true closer it today, though. Sutter often pitched 2 and 3 innings to close games. Today's closers often come in at the start of the ninth.
Goose Gossage was one of the first feared fire-ball closers in his era, had a great name, and like Sutter pitched much harder than today's one inning closers. He should join Sutter on the stand.
Also, outfielder Jim Rice, who apparently was not a nice guy to reporters in his day, has had his Hall of Fame induction postponed long enough. Induct him. He is a no brainer in my mind. Like Sutter and Gossage, Rice and all other Hall of Fame players must be viewed in their time period. For a period of 12 years -- 1975-86 -- Rice led all American League players in 12 different offensive categories, including home runs (350), RBI (1,276), total bases (3,670), slugging percentage (.520), runs (1,098) and hits (2,145). Twelve years of dominance is enough for me. But he also has another distinction. Among all major leaguers, only nine players have compiled as high a career batting average (.298) and as many homers. They are: Ted Williams, Babe Ruth, Mel Ott, Hank Aaron, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays and Stan Musial. Hall of Famers all. Rice should make it 10 of 10.
Andre Dawson also has a case to be made. No eligible player has ever collected as many hits (2,774) or RBI (1,591) without becoming a Hall of Famer. He also has an MVP while with the Cubs, one of the few won by a player on a last place team. Dawson spent much of his career battling his own knees. He played hard and was very good for several years. I think he probably deserves a vote, as well.
Also hoping for more love is Bert Blylevin. He has 287 wins (300 is considered automatic Hall of Fame material) and is 5th all time in strikeouts. But he has a low winning percentage, in part due to his career of awful run support.
The guys who are first time eligibles are not a bumper crop, though there are many good, but not Hall of Fame, players on the list. Lee Smith, Orel Hershiser, who had some great years, and Dwight Gooden, who also had some great years, are just not quite Hall of Fame material.
Other guys are hoping to see thier stock rise.
I don't think Albert Belle is really worth considering.
Will Clark has a case to be made. He was a great clutch player, had good lifetime numbers and did nothing but win games, including playoff and world series games. He won't make it.
Other guys hoping to see a rise in their vote totals include Andre Dawson, Jack Morris and Bert Blyleven. I'd look closely at Jack Morris, but I don't think I'd vote for him. I'm not sold on Andre or Bert.
My ballot would be Sutter, Goose, and Rice.
UPDATE: As I was preparing this, the Hall announced its vote. Only Sutter made it. I am glad for him, but disappointed for Rice and Goose.