The 2010 Hall of Fame ballot is out and the names are all there for our relentless ridicule. Meh. Let’s not make this too difficult now, shall we? There is only one nominee who is a surefire lock to be a first ballot Hall of Famer and that man is Barry Larkin.
Not so much.
But these decisions need to be weighed with ample baseball knowledge and ruthless number crunching, which is why we turn to the always accurate Google Oracle to see whether or not these fellas are Hall of Fame worthy. (click on the images for a closer view)
When your one claim to fame is getting your a$s beat by a man old enough to be your father in what was probably the most embarrassing basebrawl of all time, no, you may not enter the Hall of Fame, sir.
But please, somebody — baseball writers, Oprah, Jesus, anyone — please put Andre Dawson in the Hall of Fame. He deserves to be there. And I am getting very, very sick of having to lobby for this ex-Cub who made a living making my life miserable as a child.
Buck up, fellas. The Hawk was better than Jim Rice.
Hate me ‘cuz I tell it straight, just don’t hate me ‘cuz I”m right.
The only disappointing thing about Rickey Henderson being admitted to the Hall of Fame is the fact he’ll be going in alongside long-time Red Sox fan favorite Jim Rice. Don’t get me wrong, dear readers. I have absolutely nothing against Jim Rice, as a person or as a player; in fact, I would even say he deserves to be included in the hallowed halls of Cooperstown.
Thing is: I feel sorry for him and the subsequent upstaging he’ll be forced to endure come July. I mean, Rickey Henderson is the “greatest of all-time”.
Okay, well, maybe he meant he was the greatest base-stealer of all-time. In any case, I think we all know how much swagger Henderson brings to any field, locker room, podium. The man has always been the cynosure of self-confidence, the quintessential self-promoter, the Barack Obama of baseball perhaps.
And that’s why I’m already salivating at the unscripted heroics of his forthcoming acceptance speech this summer.
Verily, I think we all have our favorite Rickey Henderson story. Whether it’s his persistent third person self-references, sliding into home plate after hitting a homerun or his penchant for talking to himself in the most supportive of ways like “Don’t worry, Rickey. You’re still the best”, I think we can all agree that his undying, unwavering, unparalleled belief in all-things Rickey Henderson made him the greatest lead-off hitter of all-time and an icon for baseball fans like myself.
I, too, have had the luxury of owning personal Rickey Henderson memories — memories that I will always hold dear to my heart. Henderson’s career started the same year my life did and I can’t ever remember not being mesmerized by his speed, his bat, his patience at the plate. For someone so fast, I never could get over how many pitches he was able to take in order to wear a pitcher down early. And though I had no affiliation to the teams with which Henderson played, I remember coveting his baseball cards and having the sudden need to check box scores of A’s (and later Yankees) games to see how many bases he’d stolen, how many homeruns he’d hit.
So when I finally had the chance to see Rickey Henderson play in person during the 2003 season while living in Los Angeles, I told my buddy before the home half of the first: “Wouldn’t it be something if Rickey led off with a homerun?”
And by golly he did it.
Watching him jog around the bases brought an indescribable chill up my spine and a few man-tears to my eye.
I said a few. Gimme a break. I love this friggin’ game.
But that wasn’t the end of my personal Henderson drama. Before a 2007 Saturday afternoon game at Wrigley pitting the Mets against the Cubs, I made it out to the left field wall for batting practice and was pleasantly surprised to see none other than Rickey himself shagging fly balls.
“Hey, Rickey, when ya gonna make another comeback?” I yelled from about 20 feet away.
“Hey, Rickey, you’re the greatest of all-time!”
“Hey, Rickey, you’re a first ballot Hall of Famer!”
After ten minutes of relentless hollers, Rickey finally acknowledged my existence with a simple yet earnestly eloquent: “Rickey fine!”
Indeed, Rickey fine.
So, so fine.
So don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.
I’m sorry, but did the National Bureau of Economic Research just inform me and myriad dear readers, that indeed the United States of America’s economy is in a (daresay) recession?
I beg your pardon, but did our Dear Leader, in an interview with ABC’s Charlie Gibson, admit his own incompetency by saying “I think I was unprepared for war”?
As if the mass exodus of once-successful business owners to the overcrowded unemployment line in my Southside Chicago neighborhood wasn’t reason enough to believe. As if the tense gazes of disgust from world leaders and record low approval rating during Bush II wasn’t enough reason to believe. Well, folks, believe it; and believe that the spindoctors are just going to keep getting more and more convoluted as they assume we US Americans are as dumb as they are obvious.
Because apparently, the new status quo put forth by those in power has regressed to that of an unnecessary complication of issues that should otherwise be clear as day.
This has never been more true as we go into the third year of Mark McGwire Hall of Fame eligibility, where once again, I predict the baseball writers will find it in themselves to be a group of holier-than-thou judgmental jack^sses who consistently confuse clarity with integrity.
Did McGwire use performance enhancing drugs? Maybe. Probably. We don’t know for sure and we never will.
Did McGwire’s awkward Capitol Hill exchange further damage his image and cause us to question his character? Yes. Definitely.
Should it matter when considering him for the Hall of Fame?
Hands down, Mark McGwire should have been a first-time ballot Hall of Famer. His numbers, his performance, his legacy and the positive impact he had on the game alone should have put him in on the first try.
While I dare not minimize the damaging stain PEDs have left on the game of baseball as well as the youth of our nation, I still believe in the democratic principle of one being “innocent until proven guilty” and until someone proves that McGwire broke the rules, he deserves to be remembered as a Hall of Famer.
Jim Rice, Bert Blyleven, Andre Dawson… sure, waffle on those guys. They deserve to be waffled on a bit because they’re not stand-out no-brainer players. But McGwire? Give me a break. Give him a break.
And beware, for Barry Bonds will soon be in line for the same retrospection. Look, as much as I dislike the man as a human being, I cannot conceive a Hall of Fame without Barry Bonds’ plaque. Baseball writers, your job is not to teach lessons to suspected bad boys. Your job is to reward players for having Hall of Fame careers despite their antics — whatever and as displeasing as they may be. Remember, Ty Cobb, arguably one of the most disgustingly erratic, singly detrimental members of the entire human race, is rightfully in the Hall of Fame.
Get over yourselves, writers. You’re not judges. You’re not the police. You’re not God(s).
Do the right thing and put Mark McGwire in the Hall of Fame. And while you’re doing that, prepare for the barrage of suspect PED users, headlined by one Barry Bonds, who will soon be eligible for HOF consideration.
The world will be watching and I will be quick to slander.
So yeah, go ahead and hate me; I only ask that you don’t hate me ‘cuz I’m right.