OK, so only reliever Bruce Sutter was elected into the Hall of Fame (only the fourth relief pitcher) and Rich “Goose” Gossage is pissed off.
Good, he should be … because he belongs. As does Jim Rice and Andre Dawson.
What is puzzling to us die-hard baseball fans over 40 is HOW the 10-year members of the Baseball Writers Association of America, the group that decide this thing, can actually keep some of the deserving men out of the august shrine.
Here’s one answer: bias. Gossage played for San Diego and the White Sox but made his biggest splash with … the Yankees. Rice was a lifer with … the Red Sox. Dawson starred for Montreal but was Most Valuable Player for … the Cubs.
Could there be a backlash against these teams by West Coast and Midwest/Southern writers? Sure, in the same manner as there is an obvious bias against Dallas Cowboy nominees in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and FOR San Francisco and Pittsburgh. It’s not admitted but it is there.
So when will Rice, Dawson and Gossage have a chance? In 2-3 years, but not in 2007.
Here are the HOP eligibles for the next four years:
2007: Harold Baines, Derek Bell, Dante Bichette, Bobby Bonilla, Jeff Brantley, Jay Buhner, Ken Caminiti, Jose Canseco, Eric Davis, Tony Fernandez, Tony Gwynn, Darryl Hamilton, Pete Harnisch, Charlie Hayes, Glenallen Hill, Ken Hill, Stan Javier, Wally Joyner, Ramon Martinez, Mark McGwire, Paul O’Neill, Gregg Olson, Cal Ripken Jr., Bret Saberhagen, Jeff Shaw, Kevin Tapani, Devon White, Bobby Witt
2008: Shawon Dunston, Travis Fryman, David Justice, Mike Morgan, Tim Raines, Randy Velarde
2009: Mark Grace, Rickey Henderson, Dean Palmer, Dan Plesac, Matt Williams
2010: Andres Galarraga, Edgar Martinez, Robin Ventura.
Out of all those players, only Ripken, Gwynn and Henderson are shoo-ins. McGwire SHOULD be elected, but there will be a tremendous backlash against him for his (perceived) misleading comments about steroid usage although no one has proven a Goddamn thing. He might have to wait until 2008.
You could argue over beers about whether Saberhagen belongs (if HE does then Bert Blylevan does), or whether a steady player like Paul O’Neill, Harold Baines or Edgar Martinez should be elected. If any of those players get in, then the voters need to immediate induct the likes of Dawson, Rice and Dale Murphy – no questions asked. How can you keep a back-to-back MVP out (that’s Dale Murphy, as dominant and feared a power hitter in the day as there was)?
The preceding conversation is why baseball is such a wonderful fan’s sport. And pitchers and catcher report in a month …
Life will begin again.