Thursday, January 7, 2010
The Obligatory Hall of Fame Outraged Response
Since starting this lightly-read blog, I've gone out of my way to avoid recycling material that I'd written for my previous internet employers. But, every year around this time, I reach back to 2005, when I cobbled together an exhaustive feature that examined the Hall of Fame prospects for 100 current and retired players.
Here's what I wrote about the newest Hall of Fame inductee, Andre Dawson:
So goes the story of Andre, whose most Gigantic* seasons materialized in Montreal and away from the big-market media. An eight-time All Star and Gold Glove winner, Dawson was very good for a very long time, but seldom great. He only reached the 30 HR plateau three times, his lifetime OBP of .323 is borderline awful and the fact that he collected nearly 1,000 useless and unproductive at-bats over his final four years make his case for Cooperstown all the less compelling.
* - And, no, I can't believe I went there in 2005.
M'man Smitty and I have had a few heated debates on Dawson's candidacy – he's pro, I'm con. In the end, I'm not going to get too worked up over it. I would only ask that his supporters in the media stop with the revisionist history. Dawson's absolute offensive peak was a four year stretch from 1980-83 (.302/.350/.518). He was solid for the rest of his 11-year run in Montreal, but there wasn't any HoF buzz until much later.
And, his 1980s peak took a back seat to Dale Murphy's (.293/.383/.533) from 1982-85; Darryl Strawberry's (.272/.378/.549) from 1985-88 and even Eric Davis' (.281/.377/.537) from 1986-89.
I will, however, get worked up about Roberto Alomar. Here are my thoughts from five years ago:
Despite the numerous changes of address (seven different teams in 17 years); Alomar was unquestionably the best second baseman of his era. 12 All Star appearances, 10 Gold Gloves and five top 10 finishes in the MVP race would be enough by themselves. Throw in a career .300 average and .371 OBP and you've got one of the finest top of the order hitters of this generation. 2700+ hits and 470+ stolen bases (and counting) are just icing on the cake.
Alomar is on the short list of my all-time favorite players who never wore the Oakland A's green and gold. You know those hackneyed platitudes that sportswriters have been belching out since the 19th century? Well, Alomar's play at second base was jaw-dropping, breathtaking and awe-inspiring.
With Alomar's crazy range at second base on the early 1990s juggernaut Toronto Blue Jays squad, they could've sat light-hitting shortstop Manny Lee – let Alomar cover SS, too – hit eight players and still won the AL East by eight games. I kid, but Alomar was that good.
Now, if he'd only gotten 50% of the HoF vote, I'd have been disappointed. Alomar was great for a long time, but after a terrific 2001 season – at the age of 33 – he was done. His final three seasons included a disastrous, high-profile flop with the Mets and MAYBE Alomar's HoF omission could be explained away with the "recency effect".
Instead, Alomar missed inclusion by eight votes. And, there's not a doubt in mind that he was targeted by just enough voters who felt obligated to deliver a post-dated punishment for a singular on-field sin in 1996. It's all detailed in this absolutely terrific story.
Alomar intentionally spat on umpire John Hirschbeck during a heated dispute. Afterwards, Alomar implied that the umpire's terminally ill child was the cause for Hirschbeck's short fuse. Alomar was subsequently crucified in the media. Alomar eventually apologized and the two became close friends, working together for Hirschbeck's charity.
Recapping: the ONLY two parties involved have moved on and turned a vile, repugnant moment into something positive, productive and – quite possibly – life-saving.
Meanwhile, too many Hall of Fame voters chose to make a statement on character instead of listening to the message unfolding right in front of them.
(If you haven't done so, make sure you read Joe Posnanski's phenomenal piece on his HoF ballot. You won't agree with every selection/omission – I didn't – but, he's the rare sportswriter with an open mind and a willingness to consider all arguments.)