Anyone from outside of the Northeast who likes baseball will eventually get beaten down by the Eastern media bias. I had some feeling of this growing up, but really had it drilled home with Ken Burns’ Baseball. You would have thought that there were only three teams in baseball as Burns waited until the last hour of the program to acknowledge the existence of any great player outside of Boston or New York. I actually think I saw the great Nolan Ryan’s face flash past the screen in a montage, but I was not sure.
The problem is two fold. Great players from teams outside of the Northeast have to be that much greater to even be considered for the Hall of Fame. While it seems like Players for that Yankees and Red Sox simply have to be good for a long period, and be likable to make it into the Hall of Fame (see Wade Boggs).
Today, we are told that Jim Rice will be in the Hall of Fame. I don’t have any problem with a person saying that Jim Rice was a very good baseball player, but he does not deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. Put him in your team’s Ring of Honor if you wan to, but not in the Hall of Fame.
He did not reach any of the ‘benchmarks’. He did not have 3000 hit. He did not even have 2500 hits (2452). He did not have 500 home runs (382). There is no justification for his inclusion, and it cheapens the Hall of Fame.
I looked at a few other players in comparison. Reuben Sierra and Al Oliver are two Texas Rangers who have never sniffed the Hall of Fame, and rightly so. Oliver had a 303 batting average, 2743 hits, 219 home runs, and 1326 RBIs in 18 seasons. Sierra had a 268 average, 1322 RBIs, 2152 hits and 306 home runs in 20 seasons (he played less than 50 games in 11 of these). These players are not as good as Jim Rice, but they compare with him, and the point is that they obviously do not belong in the Hall of Fame.
Ricky Henderson obviously does belong in the Hall of Fame. He hit a benchmark with his 3055 hits while compiling the most stolen bases in history. That’s it. He’s in the Hall because he did what it took to get there. Unfortunately, players like the great Ted Williams and Carl Yastrzemski will now have to have their names spoken in the same breath with Jim Rice. Am I the only one that sees the wrongness of this?
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