Jim Rice Polutes the Baseball Hall of Fame

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?

A Little More Yankee Hatin’

I don’t know if it is absolutely fair to hate the Yankees for signing CC Sabathia for a record $161,000,000 over the next six years, but just can’t help it.

As a fan of the Texas Rangers, I will always remember how offended the media was when the Rangers offered A-Rod, the best player in baseball at the time, a record $150,000,000 contract.  The media beat the Rangers up and down about how ridiculous the contract was.  Because many people allow their opinions to be determined by the things that knuckleheads in the media say, the outcry was pretty loud.  Eventually, even though he was still the best player in baseball during his tenure with the Rangers, public opinion soured him on the team, and he left (to the Yankees, no less, sticking the Rangers with a good portion of his contract).

Obviously, the best position player in baseball is worth more than the best pitcher in baseball.  Why then is it OK for the Yankees to spend these sums of money, but not the Rangers?

The problem I have is with a sports media which is largely driven and controlled by Eastern press agencies who do little to mask their biases for teams like the Yankees, but never acknowledge these biases.  What I see in all of this is that it is alright for a team such as the Yankees to spend whatever they want on any player, but heaven forbid an upstart, second-tier team like the Rangers even attempt to play ball in the same marketplace that the Yankees play in.  If that were to happen, then perhaps some team other than the Red Sox and Yankees would go to the playoffs every year, and the Eastern media obviously could not deal with that.

So, because the media will not police itself in this manner, I am left with no other option but to wish failure on the Yankees.  And, I do.

Confessions of a Yankee hater

The first step in a Twelve Step Program is to admit that you have a problem.  It has been a long hard road filled with a lot of denial, but I can finally admit to myself today, that I am a Yankee hater.  Just saying it feels as if a load has been lifted off of my back.  This has been a hard realization to come to, but seeing how Jonathan Papelbon was treated in New York last night caused me to finally reconcile my feelings on the subject.

 

I consider myself a baseball fan, as much as I can be having chosen the Texas Rangers as the team that I root for.  However, in considering myself a fan of the game, I have found it difficult to place my hatred appropriately on the Yankees.  I mean, how can you hate Babe Ruth?  How can you hate Lou Gehrig?  How can you hate Mickey Mantle?  I really can’t.  So, I have decided to compartmentalize my hatred of the Yankees.  Though he is not the absolute reason that I hate the Yankees, I will use George Steinbrenner as the delineator of my hatred.  I will choose to respect the Yankees and the great players who played for them up until Steinbrenner purchased the club, and choose to hate the Yankees and the players who have played for the ball club since then.

 

So, why do I hate the Yankees?  I asked myself the same question, and came up with a lot of things that I hate about them.  Then I asked myself what do I like about them, and the only thing I came up with was their old great players.  There was really nothing from the past 35 years to like about them, so I admitted to myself, and now I admit to you that I really don’t like the Yankees.

 

Most of my hatred for the Yankees is generated through media bias.  The Eastern media that controls much of the sports information in this country never fails to prostrate itself at the foot of the Yankees.  The Yankees are never criticized for the money that they spend (more on this when I get to the A-Rod part of the post).  The Yankees could be in last place, and they would still be in the first 15 minutes of Sportscenter.  I have missed compelling Ranger’s games, and turned to Sportcenter for a recap only to have to wait 52 minutes for the five second mention of the Ranger’s game if it is mentioned at all.

 

Yankee management and their fans have such a sense of entitlement (which the media also promotes) that it makes me ill.  The owner and management of the team continually overreact.  If the Yankees are not in first place, obviously someone has to be fired,…today. 

 

Every year either ESPN or SI will do an article about the best fans in sports or baseball in particular.  Yankee fans are often at the top of these lists.  The viewing public is continually reminded how smart the fans in New York are, especially when compared with fans in other parts of the country.  If this is the case, why is it Yankee fans that screw up and grab a ball that is in play?  And, if Yankee fans are so smart, why do they fall for disingenuous articles that are printed in newspapers with the sole purpose of causing them to make asses of themselves which they inevitably do. 

 

This brings us to last night’s All Star Game.  Jonathan Papelbon made the horrible mistake of suggesting that he, as a closer, would not be afraid to close the All Star Game.  A sorry New York newspaper suggested that Papelbon was saying that he should close the game instead of Mariano Rivera.  So, these great New York fans take it upon themselves to verbally assault Papelbon and his pregnant wife during the parade on the way to the game.  Very nice.  Then these genius fans decide to boo him and chant against him when he came in to pitch.  Never mind the fact that he was pitching for the American League.  Idiots.  What a sense of entitlement they must have.  It was absolutely right for Papelbon as a closer in the major leagues to want to close the game.  Considering the fact that Terry Francona (the Boston Manager) was the American League manager for the game, it would have been absolutely appropriate for him to choose to honor his own player over a player from another team.  It was his call, and if I had been in his place, I would have left Papelbon in for the ninth to teach the Yankee fans a lesson about treating my player that way after I had gone out of my way to honor Rivera by putting Papelbon into the game in the eighth inning.

 

Yes, I have my reasons, but the biggest one is A-Rod.  Being a Rangers fan, I have suffered through decades of bad baseball.  Longtime Ranger fans know well what it is like to be frustrated with ownership that wants to win on the cheap.  Finally, Tom Hicks bought the team, and we had an owner that was willing to spend some money to make the team better (at that time).  Several times when the Rangers went after a player in the past, they went to New York, even when the Rangers were offering more money.  Why wouldn’t they go and play for a team that would still play them well, and would also pay every other position on the field well?  The Yankees routinely have All Stars or ex-All Stars at every position.  This makes a player look even better, and gives them a better chance to win a pennant or World Series.

 

The Rangers wanted to compete with this.  One way of doing this was to pay what it took to get a good player on their roster.  This would have a three-fold benefit.  They would get a very good player.  They would show other players that they were serious, and willing to pay what it took to win.  And finally, having a great player on their roster like A-Rod would entice other players to want to join a club that had players of his caliber on their roster. 

 

There was a high upside to paying the $25,000,000 a year salary to A-Rod at the time, that is until the eastern media lost their collective minds over the fact that an upstart team like the Rangers- that definitely was not the Yankees- would have the gall to sign a player to such a deal.  The general negative attitude that was expressed toward the A-Rod deal, both nationally, and unfortunately locally, eventually soured the fans, A-rod and the Rangers.  Then where does he go?  New York, of course, on the Rangers dime, that was until they decided to pay him even more, but no one in the eastern media had anything negative to say about that.  That was because it was the Yankees paying out a big contract this time, and that was OK.  Best of all, Tom Hicks had his hand slapped and learned that he was not allowed to play the salary game with the big boys.

 

Through the years, as a Dallas Cowboy fan, I have enjoyed hating the Redskins, the Eagles and the 49ers.  I’ve never really had a team to hate (other than the White Sox while Robin Ventura played for them).  Now, I find it liberating as a baseball fan to embrace my hatred of the Yankees, and realize that I actually have a baseball team to root against.