First Ballot HOFer: Ricky Henderson
Mo Vaughn... just before he became enourmous.
With a few days left until the greatest orgy of the Hot Stove Season (also known as the Winter Meetings in Vegas), the attention of the baseball world shifts once again to the Hall of Fame. The veterans committee (made up of the HOFers themselves for the most part) will announce their selections (if any, it’s been years since they had one) at the start of the meetings next Monday. With writers ballots due at the end of the month, and announcements of inductees coming shortly after (Jan. 12), it is time to start weighing the pros and cons of each player. This year boasts the smallest ballot ever, at only 23 players, and contains four left fielders (a position that has not had a new inductee since Yaz in ’89). Newcomers to the list include Rickey Henderson (no, he’s not still playing somewhere trying to pile up stats just for ego even though he is pretty useless), Ron Gant, David Cone, Mo Vaughn (Party at the Foxy Lady if he gets in), Greg Vaughn, and Mark Grace.
Just Relaxing, Jim Ed Style.
But, just like at Yom Kippur services, the annual appeal is not about something new. It is about things that have been laying about since Mo was an MVP, waiting to be put where they belong. In this case it is a man who spent fifteen years patrolling the grass in front of the Green Monster, and spent a decade scaring the hell out of Major League Pitchers. It is about a man whose number will most assuredly go up on the right field facade with 1,4,6,8,9,27 and 42 as soon as he is properly enshrined in Cooperstown. I speak, of course, of James Edward “Jim” Rice. He has been a Red Sox lifer, as a player, a coach, and now a NESN analyst. His numbers over the prime of his career, from 75 through 85, place him squarely in the ranks of those who have been voted into the Hall. He was the MVP in ’78, third in the voting in ’75 (and second in the ROY voting) behind teammate Fred Lynn, and was in the top five five other years. In 1975 as a rookie, he and Lynn (called the Gold Dust Twins, which would now be more likely considered as the name for twin strippers) lead the Sox to the seventh game of one of the greatest World Series ever.
We all know the arguments. We all know the numbers (if you don’t, got to Baseball-Reference.com and look them up). I don’t need to repeat them again. Why? because this plea has been made for the past 10 years as Rice was passed over for other players. Last year he got 72% of the vote, three percent shy of what he needed, and with the lack of big names entering the ballot this year (except for Rickey) it is time for Jim to get in. Plus, just imagine the suit he would bust out for the induction, that alone should be worth at least a vote or two. Jim makes Michael Irvin and Deion Sanders look like they work on wall street by comparison, with the colors, buttons and amount of stripes that he makes work on a daily basis, unlike those other slackers who only bust out once a week. Don Cherry will be proud.
COMING SOON!!! The Muppets: Winter Meetings
It Just Never Gets Old.......
As all of you voters contemplate Rice’s fate, The Winter Meetings approach, and with it the actual start to the wheeling and dealing of the Hot Stove season. The Sox offered arbitration to Tek and Byrd, and most of the big free agents got the same offer from their teams. Though they are likely to turn it down, it will get the dealing started because it puts a deadline on how long players can negotiate with current teams. Meanwhile, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports (yes, the same jerk off who called the Sox racist because they found more players who could contribute and they happened to be white) believes that Satan (Boras) will steer Teixeira towards coming to Boston in order to better position his other guys (and eat more puppies).