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March 2, 2008

Joel, Ethan...David?!? I'm conefused!

I understand that I’m late with this one, but as you all know by now…the Academy Awards were held last weekend. During the broadcast, my buddy Rob called and he and I got to talking about the Coen Brothers chances at winning “the big one”.

We both knew they had been nominated in the past and that their movies had garnered some awards…but they, essentially, had been shut out when it came to Best Director and Best Picture.

At the conclusion of the annual Oscar snoozefest (you can read E’s account of the evening here), No Country for Old Men walked away with four awards. The ear tugging Coens ended up on stage three separate times. Now, I’ve been a fan of theirs for some twenty years, but do these accolades somehow legitimize this FANTASTIC filmmaking team as “great”?

If they don’t…what does? And how does THAT translate to those who step between the white lines at least 162 times every year?

Guys like Ted Williams and Ernie Banks were sure bet Hall of Famers when they decided to hang ‘em up, but they’ll ALWAYS be saddled with that “they never won the Series” black eye.

That being said, the argument for Jack Morris is that he SHOULD be in the Hall because, conversely, he has…and has done so in grandiose fashion. Hell, I’ve even made that argumentTWICE! Furthermore…when Curt Schilling ultimately packs up his bloody sock and leaves the baseball world, people AGAIN will point to his post season heroics.

So what about a guy who ended his career just shy of 200 victories (194), a .606 winning percentage, nearly 2700 Ks, a Cy Young Award, a perfect game AND five (yes, FIVE) World Series rings?

I know what you’re thinking…PLENTY of guys have five or more World Series rings. And you’d be right. I'd then point out that a majority of them were Yankees that made their money before the Kennedy administration.

HOWEVER, of the players with five or more…a MAJORITY of them are Yankees and a majority of them made their money before the Kennedy administration.

So, am I saying that David Cone is a Hall of Famer?

Probably not. But I think you need to examine his career before you cast his career aside.

His 194 victory total isn’t THAT great. I’m sure HE would tell you that. But when you consider that he played amid the five man rotation and eleven out of twelve years there in the middle of his career he notched double digit wins…he wasn’t that shabby.

Coney also won sixty percent of his ballgames. In 1988, he had, arguably, one of the best ten seasons of the 1980s. How he went 20-3 with a 2.22 ERA, finished THIRD in the Cy Young voting and didn’t get a single first place vote is beyond me. Unanimous winner Orel Hershiser notched 23 victories and a World Series ring…but 20-3!

They vote for that thing PRIOR to the post season, right?!?

About that Cy Young award Cone DID get…it was in the strike shortened 1994 season. Cone was 16-5 and would have probably have gotten to 20 had the season played out how God intended. All and all, it is a little ironic considering Cone acted as the player’s representative during the whole ordeal.

Cone ended his career with 2668 strikeouts…good for twenty first on the all-time list. Of the twenty guys ahead of him on the all-time list, all but nine are Hall of Famers.

Of those nine, Mickey Lolich and Frank Tanana won’t get past the doors of Cooperstown without paying for their admittance. Bert Blyleven and Curt Schilling are both guys who MIGHT (in due time) make it in. The rest of the bunch (John Smoltz, Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Greg Maddux and Roger Clemens) are pretty safe bets to be inducted.

I keep getting back to those five rings though.

This is a guy that was involved in each and every one of those seasons...he wasn't just some fortunate opportunist. His teams were 12-3 in the 15 series he played and he carried an 8-3 post season record. Was he THE determining factor? No…but neither was fellow five time champ Catfish Hunter and he is a Hall of Famer that Cone almost compares to the most.

Overall, Hunter was 224-166, whereas Cone was 194-126. Advantage Hunter, right? Not necessarily. During Catfish’s five year hot streak where he won twenty or more each year, he amassed an ASTOUNDING 111-49 record. Take away those five seasons and Hunter is a VERY average 113-117 for his career. I guess it is safe to say that Cone had a more consistent career…not just one big peak like Catfish.

Both men took home a Cy Young award and finished in the top five three other times. Hunter had a better career ERA (3.26 compared to 3.46), but if you look at the rest of the league at the time…Cone was FAR better than his contemporaries, whereas Hunter was about average.

Both men were known for their control…but as I’ve mentioned before, Cone did amass quite a healthy strikeout total. By comparison, Hunter punched out 2012 opponents…some 650 less than Cone.

I’m by no means going to sit here and bang the drum for David Cone’s inclusion in the Hall of Fame. He wasn’t a big character guy. His alleged cocaine use, adulterous behavior and penchant for public masturbation are all well documented...thanks Google!

But you could do a lot worse.

***Note: The "is David Cone a Hall of Famer?" poll garnered the following results...Yes-12%, No-63 and Dear God No-24%.***

BallHype: hype it up!


Nick said...

The Cohen brothers.. I almost feel like they won the award because they felt like it was owed to them after all these years. It's like no matter what these guys do people think it's brilliant. And, sometimes it is, sometimes it falls short though in my opinion. How does this relate to baseball? Well, just because you win an award or a series, it doesn't legitmize you and, at the same time, it doesn't illegitimize you. Especially in baseball. Just because someone fails to put the talent around you it doesn't make you any greater. Even in other sports, Is Laurence Maroney all of the sudden better than Barry Sanders because he won a title? Is Derreck Fisher a better PG than John Stockton? Is Dickey Simpkons better than Kevin Garnett?

Nick said...

Whoops just because someone puts talent around it doesn't make you any greater is how that is supposed to read.

Jesus said... a point.

But here's a guy with nearly 200 wins and 2700 Ks...not REALLY Dickey Simpkins or Derek Fisher.

I just find it interesting that, as a culture, we're so quick to point out the "he's great, BUT..." versus the "he's great AND".

Let's face it...guys like Sanders and Dan Marino will ALWAYS be brought up as examples of those who never won "the big one". How about we focus on some of the "very good" players who have a fistful of rings?

Vinnie said...

It must be taken into account how many times a player helped his team reach the championship in any sport, and here is why. Isn't that the point of playing the games? To win, not just to amass juicy stats and nasty K totals? If you as a player help your team become champs then aren't you doing exactly why you were put on the team? Well besides filling the seats while NOT fighting dogs on your property. My point is if you are a superstar and your team sucks hot garbage for your whole career then you might be a great player but a horrible teammate. Or you got a horrible agent. Either way the point is to win games and winning games = championships and winning a large amount of championships should = the Hall.

Go ahead bash me Marino.

Anonymous said...

Cone was "known for his control"???

He averaged over 3.5 walks per nine innings in his career. Hardly a control pitcher.......

Matt said...

Nick - I may be wrong, but I don't think Maroney's ever won a title...unless you're talking about the AFC Championship.

Otherwise, I agree with you. His stats and resume make it closer than I would've thought before I read the article, but there're still not near enough to get him in.

Spencer Steel said...

Catfish Hunter is one of the worst, least-deserving Hall Of Famers ever. He was excellent from 1971-1975, and league average to sub-league average in his ten other seasons. His .574 winning percentage is the product of having pitched for outstanding teams, and his seasonal and career ERAs look better on paper than in the actual context of the era and ballparks he pitched in. The notion of making the case for player X by making analogies to candidates that had no business being enshrined helps to cheapen the Hall. Hunter got in because he had a cool nickname, and because he pitched well for some famous teams. In my estimation Cone was a superior pitcher to Hunter - and still has no business in the Hall.

Jesus said...


Anyone that knows me and that has talked to me at length knows that I feel EXACTLY like you do regarding Catfish. That being said, you CAN use him as a comparison because he has been enshrined...warranted or not.

Either way, are Hunter or Cone worthy Hall of Famers...probably not.