Tuesday, January 13, 2009

You Know What I Haven't Had in a While...Big League Chew

Where I opine about Jim Rice finally getting in to the Hall of Fame…

It’s been a long time coming but Jim Rice will finally be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame along with Rickey Henderson.

ESPN had a roundtable debating whether or not Jim Rice should be in the Hall of Fame and SportsCenter made mention or possibility of Rice being overrated. I’m not sure how you can be overrated if you are one of the most feared hitters of your era. To me, that doesn’t make any sense.

When it comes to halls of fame, especially the Baseball Hall of Fame there is a premium placed on numbers. If I say Cooperstown and 300, 3000, 1500 or 500 any baseball fan worth his or her weight in cracker jacks and beer knows exactly what I’m talking about. But those milestone numbers don’t necessarily define what makes a hall of famer.

Obviously it helps but being a dominant player during the time you play in certainly makes you eligible for Hall of Fame induction.

Some say that Rice lacked longevity but I’d take one of the most feared hitters for 12 seasons over a good player for 15 or 20. Rice played 16 seasons, all with the Sox and finished with 2,452 hits, 382 home runs, 1451 RBI and a .298 lifetime batting average.

Those numbers (courtesy of baseball-reference.com) are a little bit shy of some of the sure fire Hall of Fame numbers but when you figure in the fact that he finished in the top five in MVP voting six times and was an eight time all star I think he’s definitely a Hall of Famer.

Alright, he’s in now. I don’t need to try and convince anyone that he belongs there, but it’s interesting how people have this view that adding players to the hall of fame somehow cheapens the honor. If you add the wrong players then yes I can see that but I don’t see anything wrong with adding players who were the best of their time period.

The baseball hall of fame as more than just a mausoleum paying tribute to legends of a bygone age but it’s also a chronicling of baseballs journey through the ages. It’s like that giant ball at Epcot Center, Spaceship Earth, baseball is living, growing thing so how can you leave out the best players of any given era or decade?

It was long overdue for Jim Rice to get the call from Cooperstown, hopefully it won’t be a similar experience for guys like Bert Blyleven.

Okay one more quick thing about Hall of Fame voting.

The Hall of Fame voting and all voting done by media members should be immune to people with personal vendettas or gripes about players. The Hall of Fame has nothing to do with whether or not a player was nice. It’s about whether or not that player was one of the greatest to play the game.

Was it the college football AP Poll voter that said they didn’t want to be the ones to make the final determination on who is named the national champion? Is that right? I’m going to be honest that could be totally inaccurate the BCS has kind of clouded my mind but I thought I remembered hearing that.

The voting for awards and hall of fame induction shouldn’t be a popularity contest and it shouldn’t be hastily thrown together. For example, I present you with the Curious Case of Edinison Volquez of the Cincinnati Reds.

Volquez got three second place votes for NL Rookie of the Year in 2008. Funny thing is Voloquez wasn’t a rookie. Granted if you asked me during the season I probably would have thought he was a rookie too but when you are voting for Rookie of the Year you have to know who is and isn’t eligible…don’t you?

I’m not saying the human element should be taken out of the voting (we’ve seen how well that can workout) or the voters are bad people but you shouldn’t be allowed to neglect someone because you have a grudge and you should have to pay attention to what you are voting for, that’s all I’m saying.

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