Monday, January 12, 2009

Rickey and Rice in HOF

The Hall of Fame has opened its doors to two new members - Rickey Henderson and Jim Rice.

It's amazing to think what kind of player Rickey could have been if Rickey had really tried. I mean, Rickey was great and had legendary seasons, but Rickey sometimes got hung up being such a dope (read: "colorful") that he seemed to lose interest. Rickey got himself traded a few times by essentially loafing (Hi, Manny!) and Rickey also had a legendary "hammy" (what you and I call a "hamstring injury").

Rob's not here to hammer Rickey. Rob is here to praise Rickey, and what a player Rickey was. Today, Rickey is a Hall of Famer.

Oh, and before you ask - don't. Rickey's plaque will have an Oakland A's hat on it. Rickey had great years with the Yankees and Blue Jays also, but Rickey should be remembered as an Athletic.

Jim Rice is also in, and Jim (oops, I can stop talking like Rickey Henderson now) belongs. I'm glad the writers got over their collective egos to put him in on his final try. In the late 70's and early 80's, Jim Rice was as scary a hitter as anybody in the game. You'll notice I'm not posting stats because they can often be unnecessary and I just don't have the time, so deal with it. The point is, Jim Rice was dominant for a long stretch and that's what a Hall of Famer should be.

Rice came up in the 9th inning of the great playoff between the Yankees and Red Sox in 1978. As a not-quite 10 year-old, I was terrified to see him at the plate against the Goose (also an HOFer). Gossage got him to fly out to right (a sac fly) but - DAMN! - it looked like it was going out.

Congratulations to Jim Rice and Rickey Henderson. Both very worthy of induction into baseball's Hall of Fame.

Now, as to who dind't make it. I'm not sad that either Bert Blyleven or Jack Morris didn't make it, though I am amazed that Blyleven's 3701 strikeouts haven't gotten him in (there, one stat for ya). There were a few people making noise about Tim Raines getting in, but apparently not enough, as "Rock" only received 122 votes (22.6 percent - 75 percent needed for election).

So your 2009 Cooperstown Class is Henderson, Rice, Joe Gordon (elected via the Veterans' Committee), Tony Kubek (winner of the Ford Frick Award) and Nick Peters (winner of the J.G. Taylor Spink Award).

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