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Getting into the Hall of Fame is the highest honor anyone can achieve in baseball on a personal level. It is true immortality. You can understand why players want it so bad once their career is over.
Whether they say it or not, it is probably one of the most nerve-racking processes to go through awaiting the call.
Imagine being on the ballot for 12 years now.
When Bruce Sutter got in the Hall of Fame, Smith sounded off to the media about his frustration awaiting his turn. Not the best idea, but you have to respect the passion and fire he still has and was known for during his career.
"This confuses the hell out of me,” said Smith, major league baseball's all-time saves leader...15 ahead of Trevor Hoffman. “But I've always been baffled by it."
He knows better than anybody what's at stake each time a year passes, and the same can be said about the fact that his numbers are not appreciated for what they are.
"I hear people say, 'Oh, but this is only your fourth year of eligibility,' ” said Smith, who at the time was 48. “I don't get that, either. My stats aren't getting any better with time. If anything, give it a few more years and there'll be four more guys with more saves than me. But I understand that in baseball you've got to wait your time."
He was right.
Smith pitched eight good years for the Cubs, and has been a veteran who makes a few appearances at Cubs games throughout each season, as well as a scheduled stops at the Cubs convention, which is set to open its doors once again next weekend.
Perhaps if he had pitched a few more years with the Cubs, he would be given serious consideration to have his number retired. If anything, it should be to honor his career and the years that made his career with the Cubs.
Smith is right up there with the likes of Randy Hundley, Ivan DeJesus, Dave Kingman, and the more notable Cubbies like Ryne Sandberg and Ron Santo as fan favorites who span generations.
I ask you, Cubs fans, has there been a better closer than Lee Smith since he was on the Cubs?