Archive for Hall Of Fame
Even in death, George Steinbrenner and Billy Martin remain linked. The two headline a list of 12 individuals under consideration for enshrinement in the Hall of Fame as part of the Expansion Era ballot in front of the veterans committee this year. Results of the voting will be announced during the Winter Meetings on December 6 at 10 a.m.
To gain entrance into Cooperstown, candidates must receive votes on at least 75 percent of the 16 ballots casts, and George and Billy join ten other former players on this year’s slate. Also up for consideration are former players Vida Blue, Dave Concepcion, Steve Garvey, Ron Guidry, Tommy John, Al Oliver, Ted Simmons and Rusty Staub; and executives Pat Gillick and Marvin Miller. Of the 12, only Martin and Steinbrenner are deceased.
The Expansion Era ballot is something of a new creation. To ensure more veterans earn their spots in the Hall, the Hall of Fame’s Board of Directors opted this year to split baseball’s history into three eras with a three-year cycle. This year, the Expansion Era (1973-present) receives consideration. Next year, Golden Era (1947-1972) baseball folks will get their due, and in 2012, Pre-Integration (1871-1946) candidates will be up for a vote. If the Boss, for instance, isn’t elected this year, he won’t get another shot until 2013.
“Our continual challenge is to provide a structure to ensure that all candidates who are worthy of consideration have a fair system of evaluation. In identifying candidates by era, as opposed to by category, the Board feels this change will allow for an equal review of all eligible candidates, while maintaining the high standards of earning election,” Jane Forbes Cook, chair of the Hall, said.
Those who will consider the ballot include: Hall of Fame members Johnny Bench, Whitey Herzog, Eddie Murray, Jim Palmer, Tony Perez, Frank Robinson, Ryne Sandberg and Ozzie Smith; major league executives Bill Giles (Phillies), David Glass (Royals), Andy MacPhail (Orioles) and Jerry Reinsdorf (White Sox); and veteran media members Bob Elliott (Toronto Sun), Tim Kurkjian (ESPN), Ross Newhan (retired, Los Angeles Times) and Tom Verducci (Sports Illustrated).
Interestingly, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America put forward the ballot, which means that many of the people who relied on George Steinbrenner for copy consider him at least worthy of consideration. For us, this isn’t the first time we’ve pondered Steinbrenner’s role in baseball history and the merits of his career. In fact, on the week of his 80th birthday and shortly before his passing, I explored this very topic. Both Wallace Matthews and Filip Bondy said the Boss should be in Cooperstown. I wasn’t as sure:
When George’s health started to slip away, the tributes came out in full. Matthews, who doesn’t want to limit the Hall of Fame to only those who were “exemplary human beings,” says Steinbrenner should be in Cooperstown because of his contributions to the game. The Yankees, through their spending, have radically changed baseball economics, and even when the game off the field shakes down to 29 clubs facing off against George’s dollars, Steinbrenner’s clubs have kept on winning. TV deals are more lucrative because of him, and record-breaking crowds flock to see the Yanks both at home and on the road. What’s good for baseball is, after all, good for baseball.
But George isn’t an easy man to pigeonhole. He violated campaign finance laws and was suspended after he sent a private investigatory to spy on Winfield. He was a cranky and temperamental owner whose need to have his finger stirring the pot probably cost the Yankees more championships during his reign than they won. Some would say he ruined the game with his spending.
The question, I said then, remained open-ended, and four months after his death, it’s still as muddied. He changed baseball, some would say for the better, others for the worse. But it might boil down to one simple fact: If Marvin Miller isn’t elected to the Hall of Fame, neither should George Steinbrenner. If Miller gets in, all bets are off.
As we know, yesterday, the BBWAA elected Andre Dawson and no one else. The outcome was horrendous; the explanations even weaker. Today, RAB regular TommieSmithJohnCarlos grew so fed with Jon Heyman’s explanation of his ballot that he penned a massive response in the style of the late, great Fire Joe Morgan. You know how it goes.
…Generally, I’ve voted for one or two more players than average in most years, and this year should be no exception. This time I listed six “yes” votes — Roberto Alomar, Barry Larkin, Andre Dawson, Jack Morris, Dave Parker and Don Mattingly.
Dawson: A solid player, but NO
Parker: NOT F$%&ING REMOTELY, CHICO
Mattingly: NOT QUITE
Seriously, Dave Parker? Dave “.290/.339/.471/121+” Parker? Dave “Al Oliver and Rusty Staub were better players than me” Parker? Dave “people only love me because I wore a fancy black pillbox hat with horizontal yellow stripes and sang Sister Sledge songs” Parker? Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?
The Hall of Fame is going to get add a few members today, and as Maury Brown notes, MLB Network will carry the official announcement live (and exclusively) starting at 1:30pm. The only shoo-in on the ballot is Rickey Henderson, baseball’s all-time leaders in runs scored, stolen bases, and third person references. Chris Jaffe over at THT did a great job of summing up the wonder of Rickey, I highly recommend it.
You can check out the rest of the ballot here. Chances are that Jim Rice will finally break through and make it too Cooperstown in his final year on the ballot, and at that point the HOF floodgates should open. Once Rice is in, don’t you have to let Frank Howard, Fred McGriff, Albert Belle, Juan Gonzalez and Will Clark in? I mean, when the best thing you can say about a guy is “he was the most feared hitter of his era” (BBWAA code for “I have no evidence to support my claim”), does that make him Hall worthy? I’m pretty sure Mark McGwire scared the bejesus out of pitchers, so why hasn’t he been let in? He hasn’t been proven guilty of anything. Oh, and how does a guy go from receiving 29.8% of the vote in his first year on the ballot to 72.2% in his 14th year on ballot? How many games did he play in between ballots?
Eh, whatever. Sorry about the rant. Hopefully Bert Blyleven and Tim Raines break through and make it to their rightful place in the HOF. I’ll update this post as Harold Reynolds & Co. make the announcements, supposedly they’ll come around 2pm.
Update (2:01pm): Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice make it. That’s it. Congrats to them both.
Update (2:05pm): Here’s the voting:
Andre Dawson, 67.0
Bert Blyleven, 62.7
Lee Smith, 44.5
Jack Morris, 44.0
Tommy John, 31.7
Tim Raines, 22.6
Mrk McGwire, 21.9
Alan Trammell, 17.4
Dave Parker, 15.0
Donnie Baseball, 11.9
Dale Murphy, 11.5
Harold Baines, 5.9
Some time tomorrow, Rickey Henderson’s phone will ring, and he will be welcomed into the Hall of Fame. In the meantime, Jack Curry takes a few minutes to honor the personality behind the man. Rickey may have been the most prolific run-scorer and base-stealer in Major League history, but he’s also one of the game’s most entertaining characters.
A quote by Don Mattingly just about sums up Rickey’s love of the game as well. Henderson, out of the Majors since 2003, played in the independent leagues for a few years, waiting for a team to call. “As great as this guy was, he’s playing independent ball?” Mattingly said to Curry. “But then it told me how much he loved to play the game. He was going to play until they tore the uniform off. You know what I say to that? Go for it.” Indeed.
When last we visited with Corky Simpson, the septuagenarian was taking a beating for inexplicably leaving Rickey Henderson off of his Hall of Fame ballot. After facing mountains of Internet abuse, Simpson recanted yesterday. His apology, however, reeks to me of a half-hearted and back-stabbing attempt to make online ends meet.
Simpson’s mea culpa arose from an interview Carl Steward, columnist for the Oakland Tribune. Steward and Simpson talked about the controversial ballot, and Simpson offered up his excuse and an apology. “Rickey deserves to be in the Hall of Fame, and if I had my ballot back, he’d have a shot at unanimity — and I wouldn’t be hated by quite so many people,” Simpson said.
Had he stopped there, Simpson would have offered a nice shot at reconciliation, but as he kept talking, his responses grew more sarcastic and less sincere:
“I’ll bet it was worse than when 98 people failed to vote for Catfish Hunter some 22 years ago,” he added. “The blogosphere would have exploded if it had been around when 43 people failed to vote for Mickey Mantle, 23 for Willie Mays, 36 for Jackie Robinson, nine for Hank Aaron, 31 for Roberto Clemente, 57 for Yogi Berra, 23 for Stan Musial, 20 for Ted Williams and 28 for Joe DiMaggio.”
Green Valley News sportswriter Nick Prevenas said he warned Simpson about leaving Henderson off his ballot when he filed the column, but Simpson told him he “wasn’t a Rickey guy and that he would vote for him next time.”
Simpson is now well aware of the controversy he stirred but regrets that it happened. “If I had properly researched the situation, I would have voted for Rickey Henderson if for no other reason than he played for nine ball teams,” he said. “Imagine that. He’ll be the first Hall of Famer to have a bronze bust with nine caps stacked on his head. Seriously, he was a wonderful player and I simply goofed. I voted for eight deserving men. I could have picked two more — and I wish to heck I had.”
I don’t buy it, not one bit. Simpson clearly doesn’t like Rickey Henderson. Why else would he have told one of his colleagues in Arizona that he “wasn’t a Rickey guy”? It’s also really easy to tell someone you’d vote a player the next time when he’s bound to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
Meanwhile, Simpson is going after a straw man argument. It doesn’t matter if other deserving players weren’t picked on the first ballot. If a player is Hall of Fame-worthy, he should be voted in on someone’s ballot no matter what everyone else is or isn’t doing. It is also dismaying to learn that a Hall of Fame voter had not “properly researched the situation.” Again, I would seriously consider removing Simpson’s voting privilege if I were in charge of the BBWAA.
But then again, what should we expect from an organization which saw three of its members try to vote non-rookie Edinson Volquez as Rookie of the Year this year?
Meet Corky Simpson. He is a member of the Arizona Associated Press Sports Hall of Fame and once made a name for himself when he was the sole AP voter to tab Alabama for the top slot of the NCAA poll every week during the 1992 season.
He is not, apparently, a firm believe in taking his responsibilities as a sports writer too serious. “If that year,” he once said about 1992, “proved anything to me, it was the fallacy of the polls. They’re a lot of fun, but they mean nothing. It’s fun to follow the teams, but they’re not that important.”
Now, during the Winter Meetings in December, Simpson, now retired from the Tucson Citizen but a lifetime honorary voting member of the BBWAA, unveiled his Hall of Fame ballot in the Green Valley News & Sun. This ballot languished in the Arizona community newspaper Website until Rob Neyer got wind of it, and boy, is it creating a stir.
Corky, you see, voted for Matt Williams. And Don Mattingly. And Tommy John. And Tim Raines. And Jim Rice. And not Rickey Henderson.
I’ll let that sink in for a second. Corky Simpson, a lifetime honorary member of the BBWAA, did not vote for Rickey Henderson for the Hall of Fan.
Now, there’s even some irony, as Neyer points out, in Simpson’s argument. He claims not to have voted for Mark McGwire because of the steroid scandal but opted for Matt Williams, a career .268/.317/.489 hitter with 378 lifetime HRs and a place in the Mitchell Report, because “nobody ever played the game with more intensity, nor with more reverence for the sport.” I guess reverence included cheating.
Now, Corky’s only 70. He’s not that old. But this ballot is a pure embarrassment, and it does nothing to help the reputation of baseball or the Hall of Fame. I would commend Simpson for making this thing public, but if the BBWAA had any common sense, they would strip him of that honorary lifetime title. He doesn’t deserve it.
On Jan. 12, the Hall of Fame will unveil its class of 2009, and yet again, Don Mattingly, despite the beliefs of many a fervent Yankee fan, will not make the Hall of Fame. His career was cut short by a bad back, and he never put up the totals that the voters like to see from the Cooperstown bound. For a few years, however, in the late 1980s, Donnie Baseball was quite literally the best player in baseball, and in interesting glimpse into Yankee history, Larry at wezen-ball has explored what the press had to say about Mattingly in the 1980s. Year after year, the Athlon and Street & Smith previews heaped praise upon the Yankee Captain. It’s a shame back problems robbed him of what otherwise would have been a Hall of Fame career.
Oftentimes, when BBWAA voters release their Hall of Fame ballot choices, they do with little regard for common-sense analysis or even baseball reality. Ken Davidoff, however, offers up an exception. In a thorough blog post about his ballot, Davidoff explores how he has come to understand statistical tools and how he arrived at his ballot choices. If only every voter was so enlightened…
When Joe Gordon earned his spot in the Hall of Fame last week, the reception was rather underwhelming. The Yanks issued a perfunctory three-sentence congratulatory press release, and the reaction from the fan base was a deafening silence.
Joe Gordon seemingly is a man last to baseball history. Despite garnering contemporaneous praise from many in baseball and winning an MVP the same year
Joe D Ted Williams won the Triple Crown, his accomplishments are lost on the vast majority of Yankee fans. He doesn’t have a plaque in Monument Park. His number isn’t retired. He’s just not part of that Mystique and Aura surrounding the storied Yankee history.
On the surface, Joe Gordon seems like a rather unlikely candidate for the Hall of Fame too. He played for only 11 seasons, surrendering his age 29 and 30 seasons to World War II, and his career accomplishments aren’t that impressive. He didn’t hit any major offensive milestones and ended his career with a .268/.357/.466 line and a 120 OPS+. Should this open the Hall of Fame floodgates to a whole bunch of people who were good but not great over the course of their careers? It’s certainly a question we’ve debated around here over the last few weeks.
I still think, however, that the answer is no, and there’s a reason why. At the time of his retirement, Joe Gordon was probably the top offensive second baseman of all time. Since 1950, he has been overshadowed by plenty of others, but as The Times noted last week, Gordon’s success as a second base was largely unparalleled at the time. He won an MVP award. He earned himself nine trips to the All Star Game and had five World Series rings. By the time he retired, Gordon held the mark for most home runs by a second baseman and considered to be the better fielding half of the double-play combo he formed with Phil Rizzuto.
Gordon’s Yankee tale ended after the 1946 season. After a sub-par post-War campaign, the Yanks shipped him off to Cleveland, and the trade worked out for both teams. In return for Gordon, the Yanks landed themselves Allie Reynolds. Reynolds, a name not lost to history, would go 7-2 over six winning World Series for the Yanks. That is one deal that certainly worked out.
In the end, Gordon is a deserving member of the Hall of Fame. He was the best his position for the better part of 13 years, and it seems as though his time had long since passed. I wonder how many other deserving players have been lost to baseball history.
As Yankee fans grapple with the arbitration decision, another list of sorts hit the wire today as the voters received their Hall of Fame ballots. Nothing, as we’ve seen, boils the blood quite like a good Hall of Fame discussion.
Now, this year’s ballots are notable for a few reasons. First, it’s the smallest ballot in recent history with just 23 names on it. Additionally, of those listed, I believe that only Rickey Henderson should be elected. Mostly, the folks on the ballot are retreads. They’ve all been denied entry in the past but due to the Hall of Fame’s rules, they get a second, third or even tenth crack at the Hall.
Finally, this year is significant because of the presence of Jim Rice. In New England, most people think that Rice should be in the Hall of Fame. Elsewhere, most baseball fans don’t seem him as deserving. The arguments are out there for all to read. This is Rice’s last year of eligibility, and his showing last year — 72.2 percent — fell just 2.8 percentage points short of election.
My question to those who vote for Rice though is this: What has he done in the 14 years that he’s been on the ballot that earns him a spot in Cooperstown this year that he hadn’t accomplished when he retired? I’m almost tempted to say that eligiblity isn’t restrictive enough. If Rice wasn’t a Hall of Famer for the last 14 seasons, he shouldn’t be one this year just because no one else outside of Rickey is good enough to make the Hall.
Anyway, for our open thread tonight, let’s run the ballot. The names of those are below. Who would you pick for the Hall of Fame? I’d go with Rickey Henderson and only Rickey Henderson.
2009 Hall of Fame Ballot: Harold Baines, Jay Bell, Bert Blyleven, David Cone, Andre Dawson, Ron Gant, Mark Grace, Rickey Henderson, Tommy John, Don Mattingly, Mark McGwire, Jack Morris, Dale Murphy, Jesse Orosco, Dave Parker, Dan Plesac, Tim Raines, Jim Rice, Lee Smith, Alan Trammell, Greg Vaughn, Mo Vaughn, Matt Williams