Sunday, January 25, 2009

Hall of Fame Voters and Their Explanations...Not Convincing Me One Bit

USA Today's Sports Weekly, a weekly publication, had an article entitled Candidates await tally of ayes, nays. USA Today writers reveal whom they voted for and why.

1. Mel Antonen voted for Rickey Henderson, Jim Rice, Bert Blyleven, Jack Morris, Tim Raines and Alan Trammel.

His reasons on Jim Rice, Bert Blyleven, Jack Morris, Tim Raines and Alan Trammell. We don't need to go over Rickey Henderson, he's a first ballot Hall of Famer.

Said Antonen: I'm a late convert on Rice and have voted for him in each of the last 5 years.

Why the last 5 years? Jim Rice's numbers haven't changed.

He doesn't say how many times he voted for Bert Blyleven only that Bert had the best curveball of his time. (Ole Mel throws a mean curve himself.)

Jack Morris was the best pitcher of his era. (So that's it, it's his job to convince the other writers to believe what he's saying.)

Raines didn't have the pizzazz of Henderson and Trammel's 2,365 hits are impressive for a shortstop of his era. (Blah, blah, blah!)

2. Mike Dodd a.k.a. Michael Dudd
Dodd's explanation: The toughest choices on this year's vote involved two excellent players (Jim Rice and Tommy John) in their 15th and final year on the writer's ballot.

I hadn't voted for either before this year and, after renewed study, decided not to put the check next to their names.

-second half of Rice's career falls short of the Hall standard
-John was a consistent 10-14 game winner rarely ranked among the best in his league.

I remember Tommy John, the guy they named a surgery after. And not just any surgery but one that extends the livelihood of a pitcher who otherwise would not be pitching. I took Casey Stengel's advice and 'looked it up.' Tommy John won 20-games three times. (20-7 in 1977; 21-9 in 1979; 22-9 in 1980)

It's standards like these that keep deserving players from entering the Hall of Fame of their chosen profession. Rice, of course, was inducted and Tommy John will be now that the writers don't have a say (aye).

3. Bob Nightengale. Voted for... Rickey Henderson, Jim Rice, Bert Blyleven, Jack Morris and Andre Dawson.

Bobby Nightengale writes in political correct. But he misspoke when he spoke of Jack Morris. Morris was the greatest pitcher of his generation. No one was more feared. No one was a greater big-game pitcher. And his 10-inning shutout in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series was the greatest postseason game ever pitched. (Sorry Don Larsen.)

Sorry Don Larsen? Don Larsen pitched the only perfect game in World Series play and that is the best possible game a hurler could pitch. It's the straight flush of pitching performances. Hands down.

(thanks to Sports Weekly magazine for inspiring the follow-up commentary on Hall of Fame voting)

Kevin Marquez