The Hippo


Mar 26, 2019








How many of these 10 are Hall-worthy?


 On Sunday baseball’s newly formed Modern Era Committee votes on nine players and one executive for entry to the Baseball Hall of Fame, who for whatever reason haven’t passed muster to date. The committee is part of a revised way players, managers, executives and umpires will be selected to enter the Hall through four different avenues. I’m not sure why the change was needed, but I’ll go with the flow to give my vote for those up for consideration.  

First, I lean toward sheer brilliance over pretty good players who stay around long enough to accumulate the numbers that can make someone look better than they actually were. The Hall is about greatness to me, but I will say durability and reliability are talents and should be a factor. 
My evaluation also takes into account (1) Guys with low numbers because injuries or war service prevented them from reaching the automatic-in numbers of 3,000 hits, 500 homers and 300 wins. Like Pirates slugger Ralph Kiner, whose career ended after 10 years and “just” 369 homers due to a bad back. (2) The “If He’s In Then My Guy Should Be In” argument. Like if Don Drysdale’s 209 wins are in, how could Curt Schilling not be in? (3) Finally, there are guys whose numbers aren’t quite up to snuff but who should be considered if they sacrificed themselves for the betterment of the team. 
Interestingly, all three categories were present on the 1966 L.A. Dodgers pitching staff, where despite just 165 career wins Sandy Koufax was the best pitcher I’ve ever seen, the headhunting tough guy Drysdale saw his arm go dead at 32 because he was such an innings eater, and grinder Don Sutton was good enough to hang around long enough (23 years) to accumulate far more wins than either, with 324 wins, even if he wasn’t as good as double D or within three area codes of Koufax in his prime. Here are my votes.
Marvin Miller: I didn’t particularly like him, but outside of the Babe no one had a bigger impact on the business of baseball than Miller. Plus, the players union he built was undefeated vs. the owners for 40 years. That steroid-enabler Bud Selig breezed in while owner acrimony keeps Miller out is a far better place for the president’s commission on rigged elections to look at than the 2016 election. YES. 
Don Mattingly: Sorry, Red Sox Nation, but there wasn’t a person in baseball who’d have taken Wade Boggs over Donnie Baseball between 1984 to 1989. A bad back limited him to just 14 seasons, but while he had more 100-RBI seasons (five) than Mickey Mantle, he had only 222 homers and 1,099 RBI, so an extra four years wouldn’t have been enough. NO. 
Dale Murphy: He won two MVPs, hit over 36 homers five times and 398 overall. But the .265 average was low, Atlanta was a homer launching pad, he was just OK in center field and he had seven seasons hitting under .250. NO.
Tommy John: He pitched for something like 412 years. Ironic when you consider the career-saving surgical procedure now bearing his name turned him into the bionic man who lasted until a Tom Bradyesque 46. At his peak he won 20 three times in four years. But after that, he was entirely mediocre for 10 years. Still his 288 wins are one more than whiny Bert Blyleven had and is 57 wins over .500 to BB’s 37 — which should get him in. But until Twins lefty Jim Kaat (283 wins) gets in it’s NO on TJ and I say Bert should be kicked out.     
Steve Garvey: A PR phony whose goody-two-shoes act blew up on him when word came down in the same week he had gotten two women pregnant and neither was his fiancée. So I’m biased. But, having said that, he had 200 hits six times, hit .294 lifetime, played 160-plus games nine times and was the best player on very good 1970s Dodgers teams. So (gulp), YES. 
Alan Trammell: Robin Yount had better numbers and won two MVPs. But Trammel was the better shortstop and a very productive hitter when shortstop didn’t hit much. And if Yount was better, why did Trammel make six All-Star teams to his puny three? YES.   
Jack Morris: A durable grinder who pitched over 235 innings 11 times. The 3.90 ERA is the issue. But which matters more, his 21 wins or his 4.04 ERA with Toronto in 1992? He had 254 wins, was the best pitcher on three World Series winners, and all circumstances considered — pressure, stakes of the game, how well his opponent pitched — going all 10 innings as Minnesota beat Atlanta (and John Smoltz) 1-0 in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series is the greatest game I’ve ever seen pitched. YES.
Dave Parker: He was huge, a pretty good right fielder in a big park with a great arm, could run and won two batting titles. But getting caught up in the late ’70s cocaine scandal and never becoming as good as most felt he could be hurts him. Close, but I’d put Dick Allen in before him. NO. 
Ted Simmons: If there were no Johnny Bench he’d have been the NL’s best catcher during much of the ’70s. But he wasn’t a greater defender and the only catcher in the Hall he was better than is early days NY Giant Roger Bresnahan, who got in (somehow) for inventing shin guards. NO, no, make it YES, ah, NO, ahhh — a near miss. 
Luis Tiant: I’d easily take Tiant in a big game over Sutton, Drysdale, Blyleven, Nolan Ryan, and any number of Hall of Fame pitchers. He was clutch, entertaining, had a 1.60 ERA in 1968, his 49 shutouts are 21st best all-time and the 229 wins are more than Yankees great Lefty Gomez (187), Drysdale (209), Jim Bunning (222), Catfish Hunter (224) and one Pedro Martinez (219). Luis is IN. 
Let the debate begin. 
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