Friday, January 7, 2011

A New Hall of Famer

This week the Baseball Hall of Fame released the results of the 2011 voting. There weren’t really any surprises in the results. In my eyes, the only player on the ballot worthy of election was Roberto Alomar, and he was elected. I honestly don’t know why I don’t consider Barry Larkin to be the same lock. But, I don’t. Maybe it’s just an AL bias on my part. Bert Blyleven did most of his pitching before I was really watching baseball. So, I’m willing to defer to others when it comes to his enshrinement. It’s still weird to me, though, whenever someone gets elected after so long on the ballot. Did he get better since he stopped pitching? How come so few people thought he was a Hall-of-Famer right after he retired? The only reason I could see someone being elected after so long is if something they did, that was thought to be commonplace, was actually pretty hard. Hitting .400, for example. When Ted Williams did it, I wouldn’t say it was common…but it happened. Eight players had topped the mark in the last 20 years. So, I could see it being slightly ho-hum at the time. But, now that it hasn’t been done in the last 70 years, it’s a much bigger deal. But, that didn’t really happen with Blyleven. If anything, a few more pitchers have topped many of his career numbers since he retired. My assumption is that he got the same support Rice got. The voters were pretty sure Rice and Blyleven were clean. They’re not sure if anyone who played after them was. So, they’d hate to not elect either of them and find out in five years that every player who played from 1992 to 2010 was cheating. So, they had to elect them before they lost the chance. But, that’s not the most important part about this year’s results. What is? I’m glad you asked.

Roberto Alomar’s election gives me one more Hall-of-Famer on my list of players I’ve seen live. By my count, that gives me five HOFers on my list: Alomar, Boggs, Eckersley, Henderson, and Ripken. That’s not a bad list. Plus, that’s a bit conservative. I don’t count players that I only saw live at the 1999 All-Star game. Somehow, that just doesn’t seem right. And, I saw a Royals game in 1989, and a Red Sox game in 1983. George Brett, Carl Yastrzemski, and Jim Rice probably played in those games. But, since I can’t prove it I don’t count them. (Although, I probably have the ticket stubs somewhere…I should look up the box scores.)

I saw Alomar play live five times. Two of those appearances were in the classic Pedro-Colon pitching match-ups in 1999 and 2000. The most memorable time, though, was the “sixth” time I saw him. That 1999 All-Star game. Alomar, of course, made an error on a groundball hit by Matt Williams in the second inning. That prevented Pedro from having a perfect outing. It also allowed the inning ending strike ‘em out, throw ‘em out double play. What a memory.

Congratulations to Roberto Alomar and Bert Blyleven.

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