There’s probably not a lot left to say, but after 24 hours of digesting the information, I’m as happy for Jim Rice as I have been for anyone to make the Hall of Fame since Pudge Fisk made it nine years ago. Jim may not have been a clear cut candidate for the Hall, but he was good enough 20 years ago, just as he is today.It will be a tear filled night at Fenway this summer when Jim Ed’s number joins the other legends on the right field facade (way cooler than monument park, or whatever graveyard those assholes in pinstripes have at their over priced new ballyard). This also makes the number 14 eligible for me to buy a jersey of, as I only get the retired numbers and don’t need to worry about them ending up as Yanks, like all the women who bought Shitface Damon jerseys in 2004 (I currently have 9 and 27). Tom Verducci’s article on SI.com this morning gave the best explanation of why Jim Rice should have been in the Hall of Fame:
“In 1978 Brewers general manager Harry Dalton was asked who he would want if every player in the AL were made a free agent. “Rice,” he said, without hesitation.
In 1979 Rice was the highest paid player in baseball. And in 1986 and ’87 he was still the highest paid player in baseball. His value and respect as a player in the days when he played, not in the sabermetric autopsy, was off the charts.
He once hit a ball completely out of Fenway Park by clearing the back wall of the centerfield bleachers, a shot the late Tom Yawkey described as the longest ball he ever witnessed in seven decades of watching games at Fenway.
Rice wasn’t great just for a small period of time. In the 12 years starting with 1975, Rice finished first, third, third, fourth, fourth and fifth in MVP balloting, was named to eight All-Star teams, and ranked among the top five in RBIs seven times, home runs five times, total bases five times and batting average four times. His reliability at an elite level was extraordinary. Rice qualified for the batting title in every one of those 12 seasons and never had a truly bad year — his worst OPS+ in that run was 112, and that was a season in which he drove in 122 runs. He took 76 percent of his career plate appearances in either the third or fourth spot in the lineup, and batted .308 with runners in scoring position.”
I couldn’t have said it better myself (even though I’ve tried). Surviving Grady also gives us some great looks at why Jim belongs amongst the stars. I am really looking forward to the July 26th induction ceremony this year, not just for the fact that we will get to see Jim’s plaque hang with the men who he followed in the shadow of the Monster, Yaz and the Kid, but that we will get to see what kind of loud, epilepsy inducing suit he will wear. I also want to give a shout to the one and only Rickey Henderson. Both he (2002) and his brother Dave (’86-’87) were one time Sox, and the stuff that promises to come out of his mouth in Cooperstown will be the stuff of legends. They are the first left fielders to be inducted since Yaz got in 20 years ago. Even at the press conference after the announcement, both Jim and Rickey entertained us all by ripping on the Steroid users who made them look all the better for their class, skill, and ability to follow the rules. I just can’t wait for the next step.
Smoltz signing is official: Here’s to the 7 man rotation (Josh “the Fonz” Beckett, He Who Shall Never Be Doubted, The Wiggler, Wake, Penny, Smoltz, Suchholz)!