Monday, January 30, 2006

Mariano Rivera: Hall Of Famer?

My wife and I watched the Yankeeography of Mariano Rivera on DVD last night. I had seen it before and she was watching it for the first time. She looks at me in the middle of it and exclaims "Holy cow it's giving me chills!" And sure enough, the goosebumps on her arms were rather noticeable. My favorite part is when Aaron "Freakin'" Boone hots the game-winner against the Red Sox in game 7 of the 2003 ALCS and they cut to Rivera running out of the dugout as the ball is on its way over the fence, then collapsing on the mound and crying, and then getting carried of the field by his teammates. It was just an awesome sight. I remember watching the game at my in-laws house and going crazy as Boone put Wakefield's knuckler in the seats! If only the 2004 ALCS would have had ended differently.
Mariano is without a doubt the closer in the game. When he comes in and "Enter Sandman" plays you know the game is in the bag. He definitely is a first ballot Hall Of Famer. My only fear, is that he won't be.
Look at the results of this year's Hall Of Fame ballot for example. Bruce Sutter, in his 13th year on the ballot, finally gets elected, albeit by a slim margin. Sutter is the 4th reliever elected to the Hall, joining Rollie Fingers, Hoyt Wilhelm, and Dennis Eckersley. Sutter is actually the first pure reliever elected to the Hall as he never started a game. But Goose Gossage and Lee Smith don't get elected? Smith is the all-time saves leader. He should be in. Though he pitched in 10 more seasons, Gossage clocks in with 10 more career saves than Sutter and has over 100 career wins. He should be in. But that's an entirely different argument.
What makes it almost impossible for relief pitchers to be elected is that many sports writers don't see the position of relief pitcher as a position worthy of being elected into the Hall Of Fame. I was listening to "The Baseball Beat with Charley Steiner" on XM Radio. He spends 2 hours talking to various beat writers and spends about 20 minutes talking to each. After the Hall of Fame results were announced, he had on Atlanta Journal-Constitution baseball writer Furman Bisher. One of Mr. Bisher's responses during the interview is "I will never vote for a reliever to be in the Hall Of Fame," basically stating that he doesn't think it's a valid position. Someone tell me why does this guy get a vote? The role of the reliever has changed dramatically since the good old days from which Mr. Bisher is from. Closers, including Mariano Rivera, have changed the way the game is played. Gone are the days of pitchers throwing 20+ complete games in a season. Based on the era that we're in and the way the game is played, relievers definitely need to be recognized as an integral part of the game and worthy of being in the Hall. "The save" is a very valuable statistic and it is something that ALL baseball writers need to recognize. There is no way you can justify to me that Mariano Rivera is not a Hall Of Famer. Unfortunately, if there are writers that share the opinion of Mr. Bisher, it may be a difficult task. It did take Sutter 13 tries, and Goose and Lee Smith are still knocking on the door waiting to get into the party.
Personally, I think they need to do some form of review on the voters, or even change the process. Maybe give votes to TV analysts or radio announcers that have been covering the game for more than 10 years, like Vin Scully. Furman Bisher doesn't think that's a good idea. He thinks that analysts and radio announcers would be more likely to vote for players that were on the teams that they covered because they technically work for the team. Charley Steiner asked Mr. Bisher who he cast votes for. One of the players was Dale Murphy. When Charley asked him why, he said it was because Dale was an Atlanta Brave. Thank you for showing just how ignorant you are!! Charley mentioned to him that he said he didn't want radio announcers to vote because they'd be apt to vote for players on teams they cover, but he voted for Dale Murphy because he was a Brave?? Mr. Bisher wanted to explain, but the segment was out of time. I would have loved to hear him explain that one.


Anonymous said...

A reliever should NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER be elected to the Hall of Fame...NEVER NEVER NEVER. Should a strictly pinch hitter be? If one had a .983 average? NEVER NEVER NEVER. This Rivera crap and the specialization of the game is why baseball has become la tragic waste. Nowadays, the baseball "fan" is only interested in the home run and dancing mascots. BLEH...and where did all this garbage start? You know where. Anyway...Rivera blew it BIG TIME in 2004 in the famous collapse against the Red Sox. This is worthy of NO VOTE. He could not handle the pressure. He needed ONE stinkin' , holy save but could not do it. Sure 500 three-out saves in meaningless games...Wheee... Face it... he participates in less than 7% of a team's innings. The bat boy does more work. NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER NEVER a reliever!