Yes, I am happy Andre Dawson has been voted into the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. After nine years, he received 77.9 percent of the vote (a minimum 75 percent is required) for induction, and it's a fitting—howbeit overdue—honor.
One has to wonder what hat Dawson will wear on his plaque. He achieved most of his notoriety playing with the Chicago Cubs from 1987-1992, but he also played 10 years for the Montreal Expos. If he goes in as an Expo, will it be with an Expo cap or a cap of the team it is now, the Washington Nationals?
While I'm glad The Hawk made it into the Hall, I'm still very disappointed at the deserving players who didn't make it in.
Bert Blyleven : 287 wins, 250 losses, career ERA of 3.31, 3,701 career strikeouts, a no-hitter on September 22, 1977 and a two-time World Series champion and All-Star. Yes, Rik Aalbert Blyleven gave up many home runs, but he also had what many think of as the best curveball in the modern era of baseball.
One has to wonder if Blyleven's blunt ways may have rubbed some of the sports writers wrong. He made obscene gestures at fans early in his career and dropped a few F-bombs in interviews. Then there was that moment a few years ago where he made the broadcasting mistake of leaving his mic on during commercial, and, well, made some people at the FCC upset.
Yes, he's a near-.500 career pitcher. Even though Blyleven has two World Series rings, people forget he was also on terrible teams like the Texas Rangers in the 1970s. If Greg Maddux had pitched on those teams, chances are he'd be known as The Humble Apprentice instead of The Professor. Even the best pitcher can and will falter without consistent run support.
Also, as Bleacher Report's Matt Gelfand pointed out, Blyleven had 90 quality starts which he lost, ostensibly due to lack of run support. If he'd won even half of those, he'd be over the magical 300 mark.
Lee Smith: The sports writers' continued shunning of Smith is a travesty. He pitched in 1,022 games, had a win-loss record of 71-92 (normal for relievers), an ERA of 3.03, plus 1,251 strikeouts and 478 saves.
Smith currently is third on the all-time saves list and has more career saves than Hoyt Wilhelm, Bruce Sutter, Dennis Eckersley (who was also a starter), Rollie Fingers and Rich "Goose" Gossage—all of whom are in the Hall of Fame already.
Smith was also the Rolaids Relief Man of the Year thrice.
Injuries probably kept Barry Larkin from posting the career numbers (he had 198 home runs and 2,340 hits) that would've put him in on the first try, and a chronic case of humility no doubt hurt Alan Trammell . Asked a few years ago why he wasn't in the Hall yet, Trammy told a Detroit newspaper of the many other people who should be in the Hall but aren't.
If induction were based on class, Trammell would've been in on the first ballot. Easily.
Instead, Trammell continues to be on the outside despite a career batting average of .285, 185 home runs, 2,365 hits and 1,003 RBIs. In each of these categories, he trumps Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith. Well, except for hits (Smith had 2,460), but The Wizard of Overrated also had more than 1,000 career at bats more than Tram. If only Trammell could do backflips on the field...
Trammy also had four Gold Gloves, three Silver Sluggers and in 2001 was rated as the ninth best shortstop in The New Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract —higher than 14 shortstops currently in the Hall.
While both were far better hitters than Smith, both Trammell and Larkin were very comparable to Smith defensively. Maybe they just didn't do backflips or award-winning smiles. It took forever for Jim Rice, known for his unfriendliness to reporters and his stoic ways, to finally get recognition.
Let's call the Baseball Hall of Fame what it is: a popularity contest. If you have good stats, it's helpful, but the trump card is in being a fan favorite and having the fans vote you to enough All-Star games.
When I look at these guys and others who aren't in the Hall, it amazes me that guys like Phil Rizzuto are in. Maybe it's because Rizzuto was a Yankee; it certainly wasn't because of his stats: .269 career batting average, 38 home runs, 1,588 hits and in the 11 years where he played more than 120 games, he never had less than 14 errors in a season (he had a .968 career fielding percentage).
Dawson's deserved induction aside, we sigh and wonder if the Hall of Fame will become about recognizing the best overall players or if it's truly become a popularity contest.
Richard Zowie's a Bleacher Report blogger. Post comments below or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org .
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