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July 25, 2008

Hooray for Saturday!

A lot of kids growing up get excited for the normal made up holidays…Valentine’s Day, Halloween, the last day of school. Me…I always got jazzed up about the day the Hall of Fame announcement was made.

Sure, it doesn’t have some fancy name or some wing at the Hallmark store dedicated to it, but it was, for a couple hours in January…my Christmas.

Well, TECHNICALLY, Christmas was Christmas…but you get the idea.

Then, after six months of thinking about it, we get what amounts to New Years Eve, a relative’s wedding or basically any other “holiday” where someone stands up and makes some clichéd speech about what an honor it is and how they never thought they would make it.

This weekend, we get the pleasure of hearing what I am sure is going to be another in a long line of self indulgent speeches when Rich “Goose” Gossage takes center stage.

Gossage is a guy who went from 33% of the vote to close to 86% in eight years. Somehow he convinced 300 votes that all of a sudden he was good enough to become the next great reliever to be inducted into the Hall. Apparently he wasn’t only a top notch closer…he’s a wizard! Heck, he’s not even the lone “Goose” to be elected into Baseball’s hallowed halls!

In my estimation, he was on the right ballot at the right time.

For some reason, voters don’t seem to want to enshrine Jim Rice or Andre Dawson and they live by some wacky code that SOMEONE needs to be voted in. But in an age of “did he” or “didn’t he”…the Hall wasn’t about to open its doors to the likes of Mark McGwire or Tim Raines. I get it.

Which brings me to what I saw recently on ESPN. Buster Olney and Buck Showalter were given five names of current Major Leaguers and were asked what they thought about their chances.

The names were no-brainers…Mike Mussina, Billy Wagner, Jim Thome, Omar Vizquel and Gary Sheffield. Let’s break ‘em down.


To me, “Moose” is an interesting case. On paper, you see a HUGE winning percentage (.637), a brilliant 263 and 150 record and close to 2800 Ks. His career ERA is 3.69 and one could argue that had he not toiled for more than half of his career in Baltimore…he would be as much of a Hall candidate as Tom Glavine. HOWEVER, Glavine had five seasons with more than 20 wins. Mussina, while he’s hit double digits in wins seventeen straight years, has yet to eclipse 20. The Cy Young award has eluded Mussina as well. Unfortunately, six top five finishes and no hardware doesn’t make for the best Hall of Fame case. Showalter, said Mussina is a Hall of Famer…Olney disagreed. I’m with Olney on this one. Outside of wins and consistency, and this sounds stupid to say, Mussina just hasn’t SHOWN me anything spectacular.


Wagner should eclipse Eckersley on the all-time saves list this season and enter next year’s campaign firmly in fifth place all-time, third on the active list. That being said, he’s still WELL behind Trevor Hoffman, Mariano Rivera and Lee Smith AND is a guy who has never led the league in saves. By comparison, Hoffman has only led the National League twice, but he has nine seasons with more than 40 saves. Rivera has led the American League three times and has six seasons with more than 40 saves. Wagner has two. I’m not saying that Wagner isn’t a premier closer…I’m just saying that if Lee Smith can’t get a sniff at a time when Bruce Sutter, Eckersley and Gossage are…Billy Wagner is going to have a rough time competing for the writer’s affection with the likes of Hoffman and Rivera still out there. As for Olney and Showalter…they split again. Showalter was a “maybe”, while Olney “agrees” with me.

I’ve made the case for Thome and over the last year…he hasn’t done anything to make me feel otherwise. He’s got 526 home runs and barely 2000 hits. He’s going to have to do PLENTY more to sway me. Again, Olney and I are “no” votes…Showalter, predictably, was a “yes”.

Again, this is a drum I’ve beaten before and is one of those guys that I LOVE to bring into the conversation when it presents itself. Not surprisingly, Olney, Showalter and I agree across the board with “Sheik Omar”. As much as I would hate to see him hang it up…I think Omar needs to ride off into the sunset before he ruins his storied career.


Now…here’s a guy who, in all honesty, deserves his own column. Does he pass the smell test? Not sure…he plays alongside some FANTASTIC players. Matter of fact, he’s been overshadowed by plenty of them, but has put up some amazing numbers. A .294 career average, 2570 hits, 487 home runs and 1600 RBI puts him in a similar league as Willie McCovey, Mike Schmidt, Willie Stargell and Ernie Banks. HOWEVER…that’s where some of the similarities end unfortunately since each of the afore mentioned have bettered Sheff’s three top five MVP finishes by taking home the award at least once. I could go on and on about Sheffield (and I might just do that in the near future), but it is interesting to note that the nine time All-Star only once led the league in a major statistical category…he batted an NL best .330 in 1992. So…what did the ESPN experts think? Olney said “yes” and Showalter, for some reason, disagreed. Me? I agree with Buster…not Buck.

So what about you? I’ll put each up for vote…and you tell me what you think!

BallHype: hype it up!


Jesus said...

I know I failed to put the time and date in the post...but don't forget to watch the Hall induction July 27 on ESPN Classic.

And yes, the "Hooray for Saturday" should be sung in the same inflection as "Hooray for Hollywood".


Anonymous said...

Baseball sucks.