Posted By Jeff Fletcher on January 12, 2009 6:00 am
Since today is the day the Hall of Fame inductee(s) for 2009 will be announced, here’s who I voted for…
That’s it. There were 23 names on the ballot, and voters were allowed to pick up to 10, but those are the only four boxes I checked.
Henderson, of course, needs no justification. He’s the greatest leadoff hitter of all time in the history of ever. Just ask him.
As for Rice, one of the things I like to do when deciding on my HOF ballot is to look at the awards voting. Guys who consistently get a lot of votes for MVP and Cy Young are guys who were dominant in their era. This is what pushes Rice over the top for me. He was a top-five MVP finisher six times. Six! That’s over a span of more than a decade, from 1975-86, so that’s a long enough “prime” to satisfy me.
Dawson was a poor man’s Barry Bonds without the, uh, enhancements. There are only three people in history who hit 400 homers, stole 300 bases and drove in 1,500 runs, and the other two are Bonds and Willie Mays. Dawson also looks good in my MVP category: four times in the top 10 (three in the top two). Oh, and he was an eight-time Gold Glove winner.
And now, McGwire. Ugh. I flip-flopped on McGwire between my first and second year as a voter. At first, I voted no, simply because I didn’t feel like I had enough information to judge one way or the other regarding the whole steroids issue. Then last year, just after the release of the Mitchell Report, I decided to vote yes. Why? After reading the Mitchell Report, I pretty much concluded that everyone was cheating, and in many cases major league baseball was at least indirectly encouraging them to do so. My current position (subject to change, of course) is that I’m going to vote yes for all the “steroid era” guys because I’m not smart enough to know who may have cheated, who probably cheated, and who almost certainly cheated. They all did what they did because that’s what players did, and no one — not the league, the media or the fans — told them to stop.
Of all the rest of the guys, the one who came closest earning a check mark on my ballot was Bert Blyleven. You can go back and forth forever on this guy. I think it’s perfectly legitimate to criticize him for getting Cy Young votes in only four of his 22 years, but I also think it’s legit to give him credit for all those wins (287), strikeouts (3,701) and shutouts (60). He was a very good pitcher for a very long time, but he wasn’t great. He wasn’t a take-your-breath-away star. Maybe it’s unfair to penalize him for not being as spectacular as Sandy Koufax. Maybe next year I’ll vote for him. For now, though, he’s a reluctant no.
The other one I considered strongly was Tim Raines. Raines was a poor man’s Rickey Henderson. He may be the second-best leadoff hitter of all time. My problem with him was his prime was just a tad too short. He tacked on a lot of garden-variety seasons at the end of his career.
Then there’s Jack Morris, who seems to get a lot of love from people, but I just don’t see it. To me, he’s a guy whose career is remembered for a few big October games. The whole of it, though, it’s not as impressive. His career ERA is 3.90, and that was before steroids. If I’m going to cut some slack to Rice and Dawson by not expecting them to put up the huge offensive numbers of the juiced players that came after them, I have to look at the pitchers in the same light. Gotta be better than 3.90 pitching to those skinny 1980s guys.