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January 12, 2009

In 2009 it's Henderson, Rice and "The Ram"

I suppose that it’s purely coincidence that on the same night Mickey Rourke wins the Best Actor Golden Globe…plenty of players that shared the same heyday as the fictional Randy “The Ram” Robinson went to bed wondering when and if their phone is going to ring.

Today is the day for some. It is the culmination of a career, validation of a job well done and for most…a heartbreaking “thanks for playing” consolation prize.

We know one guy that is in for sure…Rickey Henderson.

Fans of the greatest leadoff hitter EVER can make their reservations for the weekend of July 24, because Henderson is poised to garner the most votes when the Hall of Fame ballots are counted and made public. For the record, Cal Ripken Jr. got the most votes (537 in 2007) while Tom Seaver had the highest vote percentage (98.8% in 1992).

My guess is Henderson eclipses them both. But who else deserves to share the podium with Henderson?

It’s been 20 years since Cooperstown has opened its doors for a leftfielder (Carl Yastrzemski was elected in 1989), will the Hall welcome TWO this summer?

With Dennis Eckersley (2004), Bruce Sutter (2006) and Goose Gossage (2008) making it in in three of the last four years...does another reliever get enshrined?

Will the Hall welcome a pair of pitchers with a staggering 575 wins between them?

Yes…no?!? I don’t know to be honest. I mean, I have an idea as to who MIGHT make their way in…but I also have my opinion as to who I would vote in if given a vote.


Rickey Henderson.

No questions asked…the guy could have written his speech 10-15 years ago.

Jim Rice.

Is it conceivable Rice has finally changed the minds of those 16 writers that keep him from getting in last year? Possibly. Bert Blyleven was the sexy pick of all the bloggers and writers out there and fell short…something tells me that this year’s darling (Rice) will no longer be the bridesmaid.

Harold Baines and Andre Dawson.

Again, like Rourke’s character in “The Wrestler”, both had tremendous success in the late 80s and early 90s and have terrible, terrible knees. I would vote for both for different reasons. Baines was the pre-eminent DH of his time and as I’ve said before…if you’re going to include the DH as a position, you’ve gotta include a DH in the Hall. I put “The Hawk” in simply on his own merit. He was every bit the player Jim Rice was and as equally feared.

Lee Smith.

I met the guy last April and the man is intimidating as all Hell. Lee seemed bigger than life standing next to me (I'm 6'4") and shaking his hand was like grabbing a tractor tire. I can only imagine what it was like having him throw something in your direction from sixty feet, six inches. His 478 saves was pretty good too.


Jay Bell, Mark Grace and Matt Williams.

The trio that helped bring a championship to Arizona in 2001 is going to have to buy their admittance to the Hall just like you and me.

The Cousins Vaughn…Mo and Greg.

I loved them both. Along with Dante Bichette…I think a majority of the fantasy league teams I put together between 1998-2003 contained one if not all three of them.

Ron Gant, Jesse Orosco and Dan Plesac.
One of these guys is a two-time 30/30 club member. Another one is the all-time leader in games pitched. The last one once signed a card for me outside County Stadium. Combined, they won’t be lucky to get enough votes to stay on the ballot a year from now to see Ray Lankford, Kevin Appier and Mike Jackson also not get elected.

Mark McGwire.

I’ve heard all the OPS arguments, but take away his tremendous home run total and all you’ve got is a guy who played in a ton of All-Star games and had precious little to show for it.

Dave Parker and Alan Trammell.

It’s possible that both “The Cobra” and “Alan” (did the vanilla white Trammell HAVE a nickname?) will take the writers to the limit. The problem is…after 15 years, neither will have gotten any closer to entering Cooperstown.

Bert Blyleven and Tommy John.

These two have 575 victories between them…not too shabby. On the flip side, they have only six All-Star appearances, four 20 win seasons, two rings and NO Cy Young Awards. 48 years in the bigs and that’s the best you can muster?

Which leads me to…

I’M ON THE FENCE…seriously.

David Cone and Jack Morris.

Honestly, I’d put both of these guys in before Blyleven and John. They were winners through and through. The argument is always “Blyleven/John did what they did on teams that didn’t win”. My response…“Cone and Morris MADE their teams winners”. EIGHT times.

Don Mattingly, Dale Murphy and Tim Raines.
If you paid ANY attention to baseball in the 80s…THESE were three of about a dozen or so guys that you would pay good money to watch. Of the three, I think Mattingly is the only one who will have his dance card punched…even if it is by the Veterans Committee.

Based on the breakdown, I guess I’d put in five guys (Henderson, Rice, Dawson, Smith and Baines)…we’ll see soon how the REAL writers do.

Who are YOUR Hall of Fame picks? Let’s hear ya!

BallHype: hype it up!


David Allan said...

Shawn, you know that if Jim Rice gets in I am putting up a Larry Walker Hall of Famer article shortly there after. I've made my feelings about Rice known and I am a Red Sox fan. I am rooting for Jack Morris and Lee Smith today.

David Allan said...

Shawn, you know that if Jim Rice gets in I am putting up a Larry Walker Hall of Famer article shortly there after. I've made my feelings about Rice known and I am a Red Sox fan. I am rooting for Jack Morris and Lee Smith today.

Johnny P. said...

My picks...

1) The self-proclaimed "Greatest"
2) The Hawk
3) That guy who coincidentally had the same surgery as was his name.
4) Morris
5) Lee Smith
6) Blyleven

Blyleven...what, 5th on the all-time strikeout list? only 12-13 wins away from 300? Put him in!

Jack pitcher of the 80s and a World Series winner!

Lee Smith? 478 saves is staggering, even by today's standards. Put him in.

Tommy John? Longevity and ability to come back from being a guinea pig for almost every pitcher since.

Dawson? You betcha. He passes the smell test. I may not be able to tell you what exactly the credentials are for the HOF, but Dawson smells like one to me.

Jesus said...

No Rice? Is this an anti-REDSox sentiment? I thought for sure the ginger haired Mark McGwire with his RED goatee would get your vote, Johnny.

Johnny P. said...

Keep your sandals on Jesus!

Okay, maybe I'll give you Rice. But you have to give me Larkin and 30 pieces of silver! ;-)

Deal, or No Deal?

Anonymous said...

Rice, No. As I sit my fellow card carrying Red Sox Nation Fans are about to tar and feather me like it's the American Revolution. But the answer on Rice is still no.

David Allan said...

sorry the above Rice discussion was me.

David Allan said...

Look at me....wrong again. Apparently Jim Rice increased his numbers enough over the last 15 years to finally get in. Congrats Jimmy, good to see a guy that doesn't give up.....would somebody please tell me why 15 years later he's more worthy now than he was in 1995, glad to see that he some how convinced 45.2% of the voters. Not sure what changed all those peoples minds, but that's why I am not a BBWAA member I guess.

Johnny P. said...

David Allan...just a guess, but maybe the writers are starting to realize the HR numbers that were put up in the post-Rice era weren't all as legit as what Rice himself did, thereby maybe in there minds it legitimized his career. I think if Rice would have played in today's day and age with the diluted pitching and smaller ballparks he would have approached if not eclipsed the 500 HR mark. Who knows?