Last week I wrote about the 2017 Baseball Hall of Fame inductions that took place in January. This week, I still have more to write regarding not only the Baseball HOF but also the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I love both of these Halls of Fame but like most people wonder why certain players are either inducted or mysteriously left out from achieving the highest honor in their respective sports. I know there is no perfect way to conduct these inductions. There are so many problems but I want to point out a couple of things that have always bothered me.
Why don’t certain players make it to the HOF when we all know they were one of the greatest athletes in their field? They don’t make it for various reasons. Sometimes the sportswriters that vote on these guys simply don’t like the player. For example, it took Brooklyn Dodgers great Duke Snider 11 years to get enough votes to enter the Hall. Originally eligible in 1970, “The Duke of Flatbush” was finally inducted in 1980. As Warren Jacobs wrote on Snider’s SABR (Society of American Baseball Research) profile about his 1970 eligibility, “perhaps because of his difficult relationship with the writers, or because there was a sense that Duke failed to reach his potential, he garnered only 17 percent of the vote that year”. (http://sabr.org/bioproj/person/be697e90)
Snider was a phenomenal player that put up amazing numbers for a perennial contender. He made 8 All-Star teams. He hit for a .295 career average with 407 HR. He played in 6 World Series and won 2 World Series championship rings with the cherry on top being his 11 World Series home runs which is 4th all time behind Ruth, Mantle, and Berra. When it came time to acknowledge his greatness, the writers wouldn’t budge because they didn’t like him! He was “difficult” and didn’t give the sportswriters good quotes for their “Dodgers bits” section of the New York Post. Who cares!?! He was a great hitter, and that’s all that should matter, right? But that’s just my opinion. What’s yours? Do you care if he was a nice person, a mean guy, a bad interview?
A year or two ago I saw Brian Kenny on MLB Network talking about a “Short peak” Hall of Fame during a segment. I pretty much agree with Kenny. In essence, he was arguing that a guy’s numbers shouldn’t qualify or disqualify him necessarily. I couldn’t agree more. To me, if a guy was the best player in his field, at his position, in his league for any length of time, a year, two years, 4 years, whatever…..he deserves a right to at least be given a chance. I don’t care what his numbers are. Likewise, just because a guy puts up the “magic” numbers over 20 years doesn’t necessarily mean he deserves to be in the Hall. Yet the writers, specifically the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) have imposed their “qualifications” for the Hall…….such as 3,000 hits, a .300 average, 400 HR, 300 wins, etc. I find it very shortsighted.
All you need to know about how messed up the system currently is with the Baseball Hall of Fame is that NOBODY has ever received 100% of the vote. Why is that? Either the voters were fudging the numbers or they were just…..clueless. Some writers have said they didn’t vote for an obvious Hall of Famer because they KNEW their fellow voters would vote the player in. That way, they could use their own vote to choose others that needed the help. Think about that…..they’re messing with the entire system. They should be disqualified from voting if you ask me. Other times, some writers even make comments like “This player doesn’t deserve to be in on the first year but maybe later”. What????? I can hear my Dad’s voice as we’re sitting in the basement in the 1980s……”I don’t know Reid, either you belong or you don’t, now leave me alone so I can read the paper and take a nap”. I couldn’t agree more with my Dad. Either you’re in or you’re out…there’s no in between. This is starting to sound like something Yoda would say, or Yogi Berra, or Mr. Miyagi, or maybe even Bruce Lee, or of course my Dad….. “There’s in or there’s out, but there’s no in between.”
But the fact remains, it’s not always objective. It’s subjective. It’s about a players style, grace, persona. It’s about how that player made you feel. It’s about the feeling you get when you see a guy play or talk about the player to your friends.
Here are five players that should be in a Hall of Fame:
It is commonly agreed that Bo Jackson is one of the greatest athletes of all-time. So why doesn’t he garner Hall of Fame votes? First of all, Cooperstown places a minimum of 10 years playing baseball for a player to be eligible, so Bo’s induction is a non-starter for the BBWAA’s voting members because he only played 8 years. According to Sporting News’s David Steele, “it’s hard enough to get in even if you reached the minimum of 10 seasons.” Steele wrote a nice piece about Bo back in 2015 and I agree with him 100%. As for football, they don’t vote for him because of his lack of numbers. His lack of numbers was due to his hip injury on January 13, 1991, but it’s also due to the fact that he played both sports professionally, essentially splitting time which crippled his stats. I’m that guy that thinks “Who cares about his numbers!” We all know that Bo Jackson was one of the greatest football players ever so let’s just vote him into the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton. One could argue that Bo wouldn’t have earned a Baseball Hall of Fame vote even if he played the minimum number of years, but there’s gotta be a better way. Maybe someone should start a multi-sport or “Greatest Athletes” Hall of Fame. I don’t know…….but what I DO know is that Bo Jackson was one of the greatest athletes we ever saw and we will EVER see. So he’s in my Hall of Fame regardless. Try to remember his amazing feats. Jackson was an all timer. You know it. I know it. We all know it, so why don’t we acknowledge it in a Hall of Fame? Let me go learn how to carve a bust out of clay now. Then I’ll invite Bo over and we’ll have a ceremony. Drinks will be served. It’s gonna be huge!
This guy should get in simply for his future impact in the game due to his elbow injury. What was “Tommy John” surgery called before Tommy John got hurt and had his elbow replaced? It was called “Thanks dude, but your career is over.” Then Dr. Frank Jobe performed his remarkable UCL surgery on Tommy in 1974. It worked! This was truly a “Great Moments in Sports History”. How many careers have been saved by Dr. Jobe and Tommy John? Talk about impact. Absolutely incredible! I almost forgot that John won 288 games over 26 seasons too. He is 162nd all time in overall WAR (Wins Above Replacement) with 62.0, the 48th best pitcher of all time. This is a better ranking than Hall of Famers such as Don Drysdale, Jim Bunning, Whitey Ford, and Sandy Koufax. What!? How is this guy NOT in the Hall already? It’s the writers and their ignorant stats minimums. This is the ol’ “a pitcher must win 300 games” bogus prerequisite. C’mon guys, stop screwing around and induct Tommy John. If you don’t, I’ll make you sit in the corner of a hall (not THE Hall) with a dunce cap on your heads.
I think Mark Buehrle will make the Hall of Fame anyway when he becomes eligible starting in 2021, but if he doesn’t, it will be because those BBWAA writers will analyze the stats and think “Uhhhh, not great so I’ll at least hold off a few years”. Little do those writers know that Mark was absolutely the heart and soul of the White Sox from 2000 to 2011. He was a captain and the leader of the team, along with Paul Konerko. He did so many special things that I believe Buehrle will ultimately be inducted. He has a World Series ring. He was the first pitcher to ever start a World Series game (Game 2) and then record a save (Game 3) in consecutive games. He was a 5 time All-Star including a win in the 2005 All-Star game, a perfect game in 2009 (7/23/2009), another no-hitter in 2007 (4/18/2007), a HR in an NL park (6/14/2009 in Milwaukee), a defensive play of the year (his Opening Day flip through the legs to Paulie on 4/5/2010), and he was a 4 time Gold Glove winner, winning 4 straight from 2009-2012. Over 16 seasons, Buehrle compiled a 214-160 record with a 3.81 ERA. According to Baseball-reference.com, Buehrle is the 61st greatest pitcher of all-time in WAR with 59.2. Like Tommy John, his WAR is higher than Hall of Famers such as Whitey Ford, Hoyt Wilhelm, and even the great Sandy Koufax. Buehrle was completely reliable too. You could always count on him pitching Opening Day. He pitched a White Sox record nine Opening Days. His 14 years in a row of 200+ innings is proof of his durability. Then he finished his career in 2015 by pitching another 198.2 innings for the Toronto Blue Jays. Then he retired, just like that. How many guys pitch 198 solid innings and then just……hang up the cleats? Incredible! Buehrle better make the Hall or I’m gonna go punch a writer in the mouth!
Who do you think should be in a Hall of Fame that isn’t? Yeah, I know what you’re thinking…….
Shoeless Joe Jackson
Did Joe Jackson really “throw” the 1919 World Series? The evidence points to…..No, he did not. He led the White Sox with a .375 batting average in that Series vs Cincinnati. He also hit a home run and made zero errors. If he was trying to lose, why was he so good? 98 years have passed since the Black Sox scandal. When we hit the century mark in 2019, let’s end this charade. Turn it into a celebration of baseball history and elect “Shoeless Joe” into the 2019 Hall of Fame class. Talk about creating interest in the game? This would be absolutely huge! It would be an extravaganza unheard of in sports history. You want to sweep the Steroids Era into the trash bin of history? This would be a distraction worthy of erasing the entire controversy with one “ratings” event. I believe this would bring back a lot of traditionalist fans that have felt betrayed by the entire Steroids Era of baseball. This “feel good” event would generate interest in the Society of American Baseball Research (SABR). It would introduce American sports history to the masses. I believe there would be gigantic media coverage. Bottom line: if Shoeless Joe did NOT throw the 1919 World Series, then he deserved to be a charter member of the Hall in 1936 along with Babe Ruth and Ty Cobb. If he DID throw the Series, he didn’t do a very good job of it. Needless to say, let’s forgive him and move on. A century is enough time to be banned. Heal the wounds by inducting Shoeless Joe in 2019. Make it a centennial celebration. The more I think about this, I need to advertise this event and make it happen! As Nike would say…..”Just Do It.”
Ok, so he gambled on baseball. Do you really think this ultra competitor gambled “against” his team? So what’s the problem, right? 30 years in purgatory is enough. Rose has the most hits in the history of the sport, a sport that has been around 150 years. What are we waiting for? Write on his plaque that he gambled on baseball and that he shouldn’t have done it. Elect him….now!
So now you know the Dutch Lion’s thoughts on the Halls of Fame. You know what I think, but I want to know what you think. So get to work on your Hall of Fame comments. No pressure. See you next week in the next edition of “Reid ‘Em & Weep”.