Monday, January 12, 2009

The 2009 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductions

Erik asked, and he receives. I give you the 2009 Baseball Hall of Fame Class.

Rickey Henderson is no big surprise. I know a lot of people out there who still hate Henderson for his showboat antics and his bragging, but look: when you stole that many bases (back when they were more impressive and arguably more important to how baseball was played in terms of run-manufacturing), get over 3000 hits, and have a career OPS+ of 127, I'm sorry, but you've not only earned your way into the Hall of Fame - you've backed up all of that bragging. Was he the greatest player ever? No, but certainly the greatest threat on the bases ever, and probably the greatest threat at the top of the order. And personally, while I never had any ill will against Rickey, the fact that he was willing to keep playing in independent leagues for minimum money until his body just didn't let him play says a lot about his love of the game, something people presumed he never had when he was boasting in the bigs. Sure, that kind of character-thing has no bearing on the Hall of Fame, but there's no question he's deserving of a first-time guy, and I'm happy to see this.

I'm also happy to see Jim Rice in. Over the past several years, around this time of year (or any quiet time in the non-baseball season), journalists would get into the debate of whether Rice (along with Andre Dawson and/or Bert Blyleven) belonged in, and I was pretty strongly convinced on all three early on in that debate. The actual revelations about the steroid era threw the accomplishments of those men into even greater relief. I'm thrilled Rice made it in (and on his last try, too), and can only hope that Dawson and Blyleven are soon to follow.

And another former Cleveland Indian great gets in through the Veteran's Committee. Although Joe Gordon's been dead for 31 years, it's an interesting pick - Gordon was on the last Cleveland World Champion team (way back in 1948.....*sigh*). I'm not quite sure what led the veterans' committee to pick him now - I suppose it was all those MVP awards, and an OPS+ of 120 is impressive, but a .268 career batting average with only one year even above .284 (in 1943, when he hit .322) is certainly not impressive. Still, any Cleveland Indian (it doesn't matter if his best years with the world's greatest manifestation of evil) entering the Hall of Fame is nice; a member of the 1948 World Champion Cleveland Indians is particularly bitter-but-sweet.

And in the totally random category, I want to know who thought Jesse Orozco was Hall-worthy. Definitely one of the better "what the hell?" picks in recent memory.

Congrats to Henderson, Rice, and (posthumously) Gordon.