Thursday, January 07, 2010
The Hawk of Fame Game
Poor Ken "Hawk" Harrelson. He can no longer lay a legitimate hawk egg claim, just an egg. I liked him as a kid when he was an announcer (along with Dick Stockton, and later, Ned Martin) for the Red Sox, as he had that southern charm, and all the fans knew he hit 30 dingers for the team during it's Impossible Dream. Over the past few years though, via the wonders of MLB TV, I've had to listen to the guy when the BoSox played their blanched stocking-clad counterparts on the South Side of Chicago... what a blow hard. When he's not calling his beloved ChiSox "the good guys", he's knee deep in annoying catchphrases like "We gone!" and "This game...is ovah!", as though he's auditioning to be the next big sellout character on SNL. I'm sure I'm not the only one who's cringed at the dudes glaring hometown allegiances on the air or his shameless cathphrasery (I just coined a new word!), but anyway, I'm not here to denigrate Harrelson, I only mention him because he was the original "Hawk". As I said, he can lay partial claim to that nickname no longer, as I am here to celebrate Andre "The Hawk" Dawson, who will have it engraved on his plaque entering Cooperstown, the frickin' Pearly Gates of Baseball.
First, let me say congrats to The Hawk, he deserves it. 21 years on balky knees and 9 years in Hall limbo. Woulda sucked if OBP (On Base Percentage), the new criteria for judging whether a batter is all-that, had kept him out. Man was straight-up 5 tool, like Willie "The Say Hey Kid" Mays before him, his contemporaries Dave "The Cobra" Parker and Eric "The Red" Davis, and Vlad "Vladdy" Guerrero and Carlos "I have no nickname or personality" Beltran now. Dawson got in with 79% of the vote (one needs 75%), but the big story since the announcement yesterday was who didn't get in, namely, Bert "The Dutchman" Blyleven and Roberto "Robby" Alomar, who narrowly missed election by 5 and 8 votes respectively. Bummer for them, of course, but each will have his day next year, I'm sure of it, as the only noteworthy new players added are Jeff "Brown Paper" Bagwell, John "__" Franco and Larry "Booger" Walker. I believe Raphael "I am not a crook" Palmeiro and Juan "Gone" Gonzalez are also up for vote, but their involvement, fact or fictional, with performance enhancing drugs is bound to hurt them as serious candidates... will be interesting to see how bad 500 hr/3000 hit roid-usin Raffy fares though.
Alomar was obviously penalized for "the spitting incident", and perhaps rightly so. No one was expecting him to enter unanimously anyway, but the guy deserves to be in there, he was perhaps the best all-around second baseman ever, or a close second to "Little" Joe Morgan. Ryne "Ryno" Sandberg got in on his 3rd try, look for Alomar to make it on his 2nd. His sudden, rapid decline with the Mets is my only problem with him, but then again, hey, Jim Ed Rice anyone? Rice lost it too, shit happens. It's hard to keep playing at that level, this is why there are only 200 some-odd players in the Hall, period, spanning the beginning of time (baseball time that is).
Blyleven, on the other hand, had a tougher miss this time around. It was his 13th year on the ballot and he came so damn close. Gotta hurt. Oh well, history holds that anyone who's received 70% of the vote (as Alomar and Blyleven each did, along with The Hawk) will eventually get in.
As for the other players on the ballot, I accurately foresaw my favorite player on there getting knocked off for not having at least 5% of the vote. So long Ellis "__" Burks, we hardly knew ya. He went the way of Dwight "Dewey" Evans before him, though Dewey (top 80's run producer/gold glove winner) definitely did not deserve that fate. Burks does have comparable #s to many in the Hall, achieved at Coors, sporadically, whatever, but... I did not, however, foresee Andres "Big Cat" Galarraga getting knocked off so quickly. He was my other fave player up for election this year, but I guess he suffered a similar Coors Field fate... As for Dewey Evans, I hope a committee of elder statesmen corrects the voters slight with him in the future. Another ex-Sox who should have had more consideration is Louis "El Tiante" Tiant. He had comparable #s to Jim "Catfish" Hunter, and I def. think he will get in one day by a group of smart thinkin' vets. Hopefully it'll happen while Tiant is alive, as they might all get boxes of fine Cuban cigars out of it in that case.
Back to the list of players who didn't get in this time around. One player I think who should've done way better than he did was Fred "Crime Dog" McGriff. Had he just gotten 7 more homers, he's nearly another "Steady" Eddie Murray, and, correct me if I'm wrong, Crime Dog had more whallop then Eddie ever did, Eddie just had consistency up the wazzoo (27hrs 100rbi, 27, 100, 27, 100 zzzzzz). Did Murray hit 30 more than once though? Yes, Crime Dog was understated, but in an age of steroids, his #s should be celebrated. He was also a fine 1st bagger, more than fine at times, and, well, that nickname deserves a Hall plaque, don't you think? Dizzy, The Splendid Splinter, Joltin' Joe, The Say Hey Kid, Catfish, Pudge, The Hawk... Crime Dog.
As for the rest of the crop this year, Barry "__" Larkin and Jack "Mount" Morris will probably take a few years to make it in, but I firmly believe that each will in time. .390 ERA or not, Morris deserves it, and his induction will be good for all the non-300 winners coming up in future years. I think Morris' mustache may already be part of a facial hair exhibit in the Hall, so wouldn't you want to reunite the man with the 'stash? Alan "__" Trammell? Ummmm, ok, him too. He was boring, and seems weird to let him in sans "Sweet" Lou Whittaker, his DP partner, but he had overpowering #s for a shortstop of his era. Édgar "El Papa" Martínez? As more DH's enter the fold, I think we'll see his vote total rise. Tim "Rock" Raines? His will too. He's threshold to me, as he just went to so many different teams it seems, and may have the fate of simply not being Rickey, but then again, he was a leadoff force. "Big" Lee Smith? Save it. He was the closer with the mostest, but was he “the guy”, like Mariano, Rich "Goose" Gossage, Rollie "Mr. Mustache" Fingers, Dennis "Eck" Eckersley, or even John "Marmaduke" Smoltz for a time? I dunno. I think Franco comin’ on the scene next year clouds it for Big Lee, they got the #’s, but where’s the beef?
Now, there's the Mark "Big Mac" McGwire question. His low vote total has stayed practically the same in the 3 years he's been on the ballot, and I think he does not get in, not now, not for a long stretch in this blogger's opinion. Sorry Mr. Gammons, but with 1600 career hits and the bulging body of a wrestler, I do not feel like he's worthy, 580 something taters or not. This is a case we're we are goin' to keep talkin' about the past.
The dregs: Dave Parker, Don "Donnie Baseball" Mattingly, Dale "All-American Boy" Murphy and Harold "Growing" Baines. They all survived, but seriously don’t stand a chance in the future. Parker was too up and down, and a conceited, cocaine usin’ showboat to boot. He had the 5 tool talent, but developed #s over longevity, not dominence. I'd put in George "The Destroyer" Foster, Dewey Evans and Dale Murphy before him. On 2nd thought, not Murphy (who's another unfullfilled 5 tooler like Parker, and Eric Davis). Parker's more akin to "Fragile" Freddie Lynn, and even Ellis Burks. I'll add Dick "Wampum" Allen to the list of those I'd enshrine before the guy. Richie Allen should be in, but that’s an old argument. I’m not gonna start yappin’ about non-Sox players who were gypped, like him (or Ted "Simba" Simmons for that matter-guy was right there with Carlton "Pudge" Fisk, Johnny "Hands" Bench, and Thurman "Squatty Body" Munson), as you probably don’t even know who the hell he was. He wore glasses, and was cool, and could whallop the damn ball, ok? He was like George “Boomer” Scott, but a little better. Deserved guys get lost in the shuffle, and you hope the vet committee will see that (though they haven’t, yet, with Gil "The Miracle Worker" Hodges, Ron "Pizza" Santo, Allen, Tiant or Simmons). Back to Parker, he’s been vocally adamant he deserves enshrinement, which may be going against him too, ya think?
On to the other dregs: Donnie Baseball? I think he should get in, but I’m in the minority. He was that good for a short spell there. Oh well, like Ron “Louisiana Lightning” Guidry, short spells don’t add up to glory. Murphy? Baines? The Darrell "Howdy Doody" Evans’s of their days. The #’s look decent, but… Each were different types of players. Murphy had the promise of greatness, but the low avg., Baines was Mr. Steady for so long but… So long. They’ll stick around for another few years but never crack the bottom of the heap.
Besides what I’ve already said about next year, the following years have many players that’ll be up for much debate. There are locks: Craig "The Little Big-Gio Man" Biggio and Mike "I'm not gay" Piazza in 2013, Frank “The Big Hurt” Thomas, Tom "__" Glavine and Greg “Mad Dog” Maddux in 2014, the maybes: Curt "Bloody Sock" Schilling (2013) and Jeff "Droid" Kent (2014), as well as the also-rans: David “Boomer” Wells (2013) and Moises “I pee on my hands” Alou (2014), but the big question marks arise in 2013 when Barry "Balco" Bonds, “Slammin” Sammy Sosa and Roger “The Rocket” Clemens enter the fray with all their PED baggage. 2012 you ask? There’s nobody. Bernie "El Caballo Boricua" Williams? He may be asked to play guitar at the induction for those who haven’t yet made it out of the group of Bagwells, Alomars, Larkins, Morrises and Blylevins (no, Larry Walker does not stand a chance. Yes, guy was a pure hitter, but we’ll never know how pure with him as he was all about Coors field)…
Ok, that’s it for my Liver Sports Hall O’ Fame thoughts. I’ll just talk a little about my team, the Red Sox, and then "We gone!”, this blog entry...is ovah!"
I, for one, am likin’ the Sox moves thus far this winter. Theo Epstein has been heavily criticized for lettin’ Jason "Jay" Bay go and not acting as he normally does this time of year I suppose, but the team has accomplished a lot over this off-season. Besides the obvious plus of the addition of stellar starter/bulldog John "Hank" Lackey, the team will now have it’s best defensive alignment ever. Offense, you say? Look, we’re gonna have Victor "VMart" Martinez for a full year, don’t forget that, plus, Mike "Cam-Boogy" Cameron, Adrian "Foxpatch" Beltre and Bill "__" Hall are gonna positively eat up the Green Monster. Maybe not to the tune of Jay Bay’s 36 taters, but don’t be surprised if Cam hits 25 and Beltre hits 25, plus another 15 from Hall off the bench. That’ll about equal, if not surpass the amt. Bay, Mike "Mikey" Lowell and Casey "at the Bat Boy" Kotchman woulda thumped.
Speaking of Cam, Beltre and Hall, the Sox got more than a shade darker this off season, more than EVER… FINALLY. Whoda thunk that Elijah "Pumpsie" Green’s team would have so much color, I like it. I always hated knowin’ that my team was the Whitest team out there, even when they were kickin’ butt in 2004 and 2007. It may sound racist, but who knows, maybe this’ll help David "Big Papi" Ortiz regain his mojo too. Hall is best buds with Cam from their Brew Crew days (where Hall hit 35 homers, by the way), so don’t count on friendships meaning jack. I personally like too that Epstein is giving Kotch a chance to play everyday elsewhere, kid’s only 26 and shouldn't be a sub. No, Theo’s not becoming all reverse racist/Black centric, and the trade wasn't because Casey’s Jewish, that wouldn't make sense, as Theo's a member of the Tribe too (the chosen people, not the Indians obviously).
I think Theo is also going to let my fave Red Soxer (next to Youk) Mikey Lowell play his way to a starting role on another team. People keep saying that Theo’s been unkind to the 2007 World Series MVP… Come on, he was signed to a 2 year deal by the team after 2007, and dealing Kotch actually frees up more potential for Mikey to play, as Hall plays Outfield as well as Infield.
Lastly, the move of CF to LF for young gun Jacoby “Tacoby Shellsbury” Ellsbury is weird, but Jacoby can handle it. He's played way more LF then Cameron, and he may be awesome there with his fast break qualiteies (as opposed to Cam and his long strides). Cameron may have thought the Monster was a prison wall or something too and have acted all shy of it for fear of guards or something… Joke! I love Cameron, he was a fave of mine when on the Mets, and woulda been the first to laugh at that.
As for the Mets, my early childhood team, they’re getting a helluva guy in Jason Bay, and he’s the right man to man-up at Citi and bury the demons of last years demise. I watched his Met press conference and Canuck bro is a working-class class act. I’ll miss him, but he's just the guy to resurrect the spoiled image of the Mets from Los(t) Mets, I'm happy for him, and yes, the team is gonna do well, esp. if David "Visine" Wright can remember how to hit home runs, Carlos "__" Delgado comes back, they get Bengie "__" Molina and the rest of the team stays off the Goddamn D.L. Bay was Jose "Towel-Head" Reyes minor league roommate for a bit too, so maybe he'll get that kids head back on straight. I even think the team is gonna give the Yanks a run for (all) their money this year as the NY team to beat. The Bombers got Curtis "Grandy" Granderson this off season, true, but who else? Javier “The Silent Assasin” Vasquez hated NY the first time around, and he may be an NL pitcher, period. They lost Hideki "Godzilla" Matsui too, Melky "Way" Cabrera, Chien-Ming Wang "Chung" and maybe Johnny “Benedict Arnold” Damon to boot. Then again, I thought their subtractions last year outdid their additions, and look how far the Yankees went… Sigh.
Ok, on that note, "we gone! This entry...is ovah!" (for tonight at least)
* After I finished this post I read an interesting article at Boston.com,
Hold your head up, Dewey Evans. I was already almost done with my Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout beer, and ready to slumber, but thought I'd add my comment about it to the end of this here Liver Sports entry. Basically, the writer of the article said that he wished that the Baseball writers who voted tried harder for consistency. Here's my tired, semi-drunken (10% alc. by vol.... hell, I woulda stayed on the ballot!) comment, which I think fits with all my earlier commenting about the Hall vote above:
Hmmmm... I agree, but disagree. I think that The Hawk belongs, but I also would have made more of a case for Dewey. I, for one, thought Blyleven and Alomar would've gotten in before Dawson this year, and was surprised it went the way it did. I'm happy for The Hawk, and I'm sure that the others will join him next year (the only new person possibly worth it is Bagwell), but I wish guys like Evans or Andres Gallaraga would get a better shake. Ellis Burks not makin' it? That was easy. Yes, he too had the #s, but it does come down to perception. Perhaps parity as you say should be taken into consideration more (then El Tiante would be in, as his stats were identical to Catfish Hunters), but it's somehow more than stats, perception, longevity et all.... what that is, I don't know. It, like, life, is a popularity contest, plain and simple. Not everyone makes the grade, which is sad, as Pro Baseball is about the best. Those that don't make the cut don't make The Show. The Hall though is more about playin' favorites. Maybe it should be more like the Rock n' Roll Hall o' Fame, but it never will be, as there are way more good players then good rock acts.
I do think the Sox should honor Evans and retire #24 though, HOFer or not, and I've said this countless times over the least few years. Manny "Female Fertility Drug" Ramirez may not even make it now, as he was a PED abuser, so that may no longer be an argument not to (retire Dewey's #24). As for the whole Hall argument, again, there's always gonna be those left out, whether right or wrong (Dick Allen, Ted Simmons, Gil Hodges, Ron Santo... the list goes on and on). I for one think that career stats perhaps have to have less to do with who's worthy. I'm a diehard Sox fan, but I might've already put Munson and Mattingly in the Hall, as they were the best of the best for periods of time, no matter how long. Look, Sandy "The Man With The Golden Arm" Koufax didn't even have 200 wins, and he's in. He was dominent, ala Pedro "Petey" Martinez (and no one's gonna be gettin' all "what about 300 wins?" with him, believe you me). And Kirby "Puck" Puckett? Or Ozzie "The Wizard of Oz" Smith? There go "it's the stats, stupid" arguments right out the window. It's freakin' arbitrary is what it is, just like life, there are some who make it, and way more who don't. It's a crapshoot, often left up to those that shouldn't be holding the cards... or ballots. (By the way, NYTimes.com had a lil' article about the Dawson/Dewey similarity too With Dawson in Hall, Red Sox’ Evans Looks a Lot Better)...
Ok, all that said, congrats to The Hawk. Now, I'm gonna finally terminate this entry with yet another link to a Boston.com article Dawson, the Hall, and a Sox cap. Hell, I don't even remember him playing with Boston (and it wasn't that long ago). Time flies, as do hawks...