Baseball Hall of Fame
Tomorrow we find out who made it into the Baseball Hall of Fame, and who got screwed, maybe for the first time, or again. Making the Hall is tough. First, you only get voted on by lots of whiney, self important little sports writers. Talk about holding a grudge. It's like that girl you didn't call your freshman year. They never forget it when you didn't give them a post game interview, and they vote against you forever. Just ask Jim Rice. Then, you have to get 75% of the vote. That is constitutional amendment tough, folks. Still, some people inexplicably get in, and other can't seem to break through.
Anywho, I turned in my ballot. Here is who I voted to induct into the Hall of Fame:
1. Tony Gwynn. A no brainer on everyone's ballot. The best hitter since Ted Williams. I once read where he swung and missed a pitch only 19 times in an entire year. He won 8 batting titles, hit .350+ 5 years in a row, blah blah blah. Puleze girlfriend.
2. Cal Ripken, Jr. Personally, I think Cal Ripkin is overrated. Don't go bonkers here on me. Overrated doesn't mean he isn't good. It is a statement about the people who talk about him. Ripken was a great player and deserving of the Hall. I just think writers fall all over themselves to hyperbolize his career because he was such a nice guy. Still, he is the only SS to win 2 MVPs, and he turned the SS into a hitter's position. His ironman streak was icing on the cake to a great, Hall of Fame career.
3. Jim Rice. This guy is the opposite of Cal Ripken. Sportswriters hated him and continue to punish him. His longevity numbers might be borderline for some players (just under 400 HR and 3,000 hits), but he put up his dominant numbers in a short career. But he dominated for 11 years with both power and average. He was a great player during that time. In those 11 seasons, Rice led the AL in home runs, RBI, runs scored, slugging and extra-base hits. And the only hitter even close in most of those departments was George Brett. It was long enough. Vote him in.
4. Dave Conception. For a while, I didn't think he deserved in the Hall. I've changed my mind. People need to remember that shortstops didn't become big hitters until recently (see, Ripken, above). The first recent SS to be a hitter was Cal Ripken, and now we have tons of power hitting, high average SS (Tejada, Jeter, A-Rod for a while, etc.). Conception played in a different era. He is one of only 14 SS to play 2000 games and collect 2000 hits. He won 5 Gold Gloves and his offensive and defensive numbers (.972 to .978 fielding percentage) were comparable to Ozzie Smiths, the only SS considered better than Conception in his day. He was also on a winner, the Big Red Machine, and a big reason why they were winners. The best SS in the majors for part of his career, and second best after Ozzie Smith came around. It may sound like grading on the curve, but that is worthy.
5. Goose Gossage. For a while, I too considered Goose's numbers not worthy. But he, like Sutter last year, pioneered the modern closer. Like Sutter, and unlike today's closers, he pitched fewer games and more relief innings per game, but he was one of the dominant pitchers of his day for a decade. In fact, he was better than Sutter, who was voted in last year, and had a longer career. Hall of Famers are to be judged by their era, and in Goose's era, he was the relief pitcher everyone wanted. He belongs.
6. Mark McGwire. McGwire is the controversy this year. Did he cheat? Well, if that means use steroids, most likely. Of course, baseball didn't have a rule then, not that it should matter. The numbers, though, put him in the Hall. He was a 12 time all-star, broke the major league home run record for a single season, is the all-time leader home run to at-bat ratio (1:10.6) in major league history, and even won a gold glove. The guy clearly had talent, hitting 49 home runs in his rookie season before showing any signs of being juiced. He is 7th on the all-time home run list with 583. He was also a genuinely good saleman for the game, especially during the come back of the major leagues in 1998. He ruined his good will with his Congressional testimony, but I can't refuse to vote for the guy. His looking bad isn't grounds for denying the guy his due. I wish I could say it was, but it isn't. Unlike McGwire, I truely despise Barry Bonds, but unless he gets indicted or tests positive for roids, I'll argue for his induction, too. Unlike Rose and Shoeless Joe, McGwire is on the ballot. It is an uncomfortable vote. This guy explains my feelings best on the subject. If Gaylord Perry, who did videos showing how he cheated, can be in the Hall, so can McGwire. His numbers can't be denied.
That is it for me. Several guys up this year were really good players whom I just can't seem to get over the hump. The closest two are Blyleven and Dawson. It wouldn't bother me in the least to see them inducted, even though Dawson was a stuck being a loser playing for the loser Cubs who suck.
Tommy John is a close call, and an argument can be made. I mean, they named the most important surgery after the guy. Tommy John surgery and Lou Gerhig's disease are the biggest contributions to medicine by major league baseball.
Jack Morris is hard to say no to. If I were in a World Series, he is one of a handful of pitchers I would give anything to start for my team. I don't think the career numbers are there.
Bert Blyleven also is a closer call. Perhaps the closest. He has great career longevity, so his career numbers match up well.
Dale Murphy is another I really want to be in the Hall, but I wouldn't vote for him. He was a dominant player for about 5 years, and won back-to-back MVP awards in 82-83. The reason McGuire is a controversy is because baseball, unlike football, has a 'character' consideration in its rules. In other words, in evaluating a player, voters are supposed to consider character. Because Murphy is borderline (399 career HR, just shy of the nearly universally accepted 400 mark), it is often argued that his character should push him over the top. I don't think he makes it, and I can't see using the fact that he is a good guy make up for the lack of longevity in his numbers. I guess I'm afraid of grade inflation, and I see him, Tommy John, as well as Andre Dawson and Steve Garvey.
Jose Conseco is for me a tough call, especially after casting the vote for his former teammate McGwire. The guy had some great numbers. He hit 462 HR, which is 30th all time, won an MVP and Rookie of the Year award, started the still rare 40-40 club (players with 40 HR and 40 SB in same season). He makes me feel too icky, and his 'dominant' career wasn't long enough for me. The HR has a different meaning in Canseco's era. Plus, he has admitted to cheating and being an all around dispicable person. At least with McGwire, there remains some doubt.