Tag Archives: Rickey Henderson

Jim Rice: This Time It Was the Destination.

Rickey and Jim had a blast yesterday.

Rickey and Jim had a blast yesterday.

I’ve always heard that it’s not the destination that matters, but the journey. I figured out a few years ago that this wasn’t in reference to my daily commute, but to those achievements and events that really make differences in people’s lives. The journey is what shapes how we look at whatever goal was ahead of us in the future, and how we look back at those in the past. Most of the time this is right.

But yesterday we all got to witness a time when it was the destination, and not the journey that made all the difference. Jim Rice is a Hall of Famer. It took fifteen years of balloting, the most that was possible, but it doesn’t matter whether he got in on the 15th try or the first (like Rickey Henderson, who went in with him), just that he is in.

Jim Rice is also the only man cool enough to wear sunglasses indoors, on TV.

Jim Rice is also the only man cool enough to wear sunglasses indoors, on TV.

For the last twenty years, Jim Rice has been a statue. He couldn’t do anything to improve the numbers which include three seasons of 35 HR, 100 RBI and 200 Hits (the only player in Major League History to do that). In his MVP season of 1978, he lead the league in HR, RBI and triples. As impressive as those stats are, they haven’t changed one bit over the past fifteen ballotings for the Hall of Fame, or the five years before that. The journey, and how long it took, don’t really matter anymore.

Yesterday, Jim Rice entered the Hall of Fame. It took way too long, and the journey got harder year after year. But as we watched Jim Ed speak on that podium at Cooperstown, the years melted away and we could see the man who walked away twenty summers ago after having dominated the American League for a decade. We saw the smile that I grew up loving, and pitchers learned to fear, and we saw one of our own enter the final stop on his journey, one in which he will be enshrined forever. And where he ended up is what really matters.

Go Sox.

Done.

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Congrats, Jim.

 

 

Just doing my job.

Just doing my job.

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.”

Left Field Represent!

Left Field Represent!

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)!

Go Sox.

30 Days. 

Done.

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The Annual Appeal

Ricky Henderson

First Ballot HOFer: Ricky Henderson

Mo Vaughn... just before he became enourmous.

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.

Jim Rice doing Jim Rice.

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.

Winter Meetings

COMING SOON!!! The Muppets: Winter Meetings

It just never gets old...

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).

73 Days.

Done.

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