Friday, January 13, 2006

Hall of Fame Wrap-Up

My fellow ex-Massapequans A Red Mind In A Blue State and
Bruce Fan In The Desert recently pitched in with Hall of Fame postings.

I could not resist.

I think that Bruce Sutter belongs in the Hall of Fame. Most importantly, he has that great first name. Second, he revolutionized the game in his own way by reintroducing the split finger into baseball.

In putting this comment together, I realized that one of the things that is probably hurting Gossage is that he was the Yankees closer after Sparky Lyle and before Dave Righetti. While Gossage was obviously the best of the three, his arrival did not solve a great problem and his departure did not create a great need (I know, the same thing can be said about the shift from DiMaggio to Mantle, but it’s a thought.)

Mostly though, outside of New York, I think it is Sutter and not Gossage who gets the credit for being the first “modern” closer. Now that Sutter is in, I can only hope that Gossage will get the call in 2 years.

If you put in that whole family of pitchers who got to 250 wins by winning 15 games a year forever, you still have a very short list --- the same four pitchers we’ve been talking about for 10 years now – Tommy John, Bert Blyleven, Jim Kaat and Jack Morris. That’s the whole list, and I think they all deserve to be in. John, Kaat and Morris all played major roles on pennant-winning teams.

A lot of sportswriters complain that the Hall of Fame should not consist of “compilers” – people like Blyleven. However, Blyleven won 15 games in 10 different seasons. I don’t think people understand how rare it is to win 15 games a season, year after year like that. He started 25 games the year he was 19, and he started 24 games the year he was 41. I think if you try to make the argument that “if you let Bert Blyleven in, you have to let ____ in, too,” you’ll come up empty.

Thurman Munson was a hero to anyone living in New York in the 70s. He was the big brother you wish you had, the type of person you hoped you’d be if you were lucky enough to find yourself in a major league uniform. The sort of tough presence you had to have to negotiate New York City in the 70s. I have no ability to objectively measure Thurman Munson’s career. There would be no dishonor to have Thurman Munson in the Hall of Fame.

Andre Dawson played on the late 80s Cubs with Ryne Sandberg, who is in the Hall of Fame and Greg Maddux who is going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer. Before that, Dawson played on the early 80s Expos with Gary Carter, who is in the Hall of Fame, and Tim Raines who ought to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, but won’t be. Neither of those teams did squat. How many Hall of Famers are you going to have from teams that don't do squat?