Off Base
If So-And-So is in the Hall, Then So-N-So Gets in Too

January 6,, 2007

Cooperstown 101. The argument for your guy, and one that’s been going around far too long. But what are ya going do? When in Rome. It’s like the Listerine man said: “I hate it; but I use it.”

The “if so-and-so’s in the Hall, then what’s-his-face has to be in too” spiel, and this is as apt an example as any, goes something like this: “If Luis Aparicio is in, then certainly Dave Concepcion has to be in.” Far from an open-and-shut case, sure, but a damn good one for Davey.

Concepcion leads Aparicio in lifetime batting average and on base percentage; postseason batting, OBP and slugging; games, pennants, and World Championships; and was a leader on arguably his league’s best team during the era in which he played. The National League’s best shortstop during the era in which he played, and a force in October. Take Concepcion out of the Cincinnati lineup, and the Reds don’t win squat.

The Concepcion vs. Pee Wee Reese slash Phil Rizzuto comparison is a good one too. Concepcion leads the threesome in hits, doubles, steals, fielding percentage and postseason batting, and is right there in career batting and team accomplishments. The Scooter won seven rings to Davey’s two, while Pee Wee, of course, lost famously in six of his seven Fall Classics.

I’m a big Jim Rice guy, and while I think he’s worthy independent of any and all comparisons, forgive me while I trot out the “if Orlando Cepeda is a Hall of Famer, then c’mon, so if Jim Rice” line.

Rice’s lifetime numbers better Cepeda’s in hits, runs, homers, RBIs, batting, OBP, slugging, All-Star Game appearances, and for good measure, outfield fielding percentage, in one less season. Rice led his league in homers three times and RBIs twice; Cepeda led his in homers once and RBIs twice. Both were MVPs.

But like I said, Rice is Hall of Fame-worthy independent of comparisons. He was the single most feared hitter of his era, a total and complete stud Red Sox player, a bleeping great hitter. A great hitter.

Now, let’s clear up two things about Jim Rice once and for all. First, he wasn’t “sullen.” He was a sensitive black man playing in Boston. He had a hell of a lot more to say than, oh, say, Steve Carlton, whose silence gave the world Tim McCarver, which is worse than anything Pete Rose or Mark McGwire ever dreamed of doing.

And this BS about Rice being a weak defensive player really needs to stop. He struggled early in Fenway. BFD. So did Wade Boggs, and Boggs didn’t have a monster of a wall to deal with. Rice developed into a fine left fielder. You don’t get the full representation of a player’s abilities from the record books, and you certainly don’t get it by perpetuating crap. You had to watch the man play. Jim Rice was a great, great player, a Hall of Famer in every way imaginable.

Steve Garvey is another great, great player who ought to be in the Hall. Like Rice, the best at his position over a significant stretch of time, but with actual gold trophies as evidence, Garvey was the brightest and most important star on one of his league’s best teams during the time in which he played.

Yes, more lifetime homers would’ve been nice, less lifetime impregnations helpful, and 401 more hits as a designated hitter in the American League a deal sealer. Rather than continue just for the numbers, Garvey chose to rest on his laurels, none the least of which was his play in big games. We’re talking six National League Championships Series, with MVPs in two of them, five World Series and a career .338 in postseason play. Add the consecutive games streak, 10 All-Star appearances, with two more MVPs, and an NL MVP, and the result in a HOF membership. Or should be.

287 wins and 3701 strikeouts for Bert Blyleven. 287 and 3701! Hello?!

16 of the top 20 on the innings pitched list, where Blyleven ranks 13th, are in the Hall of Fame. Bobby Mathews, Tommy John and Roger Clemens are the others. Moreover, Blyleven is the only retired man in the strikeouts top ten, and of the hurlers who passed longtime record holder Walter Johnson, the only one not enshrined. Blows my mind..

And since when is longevity a bad thing? Right, since Don Sutton, Phil Niekro, and to a lesser extent, Dave Winfield. But at least they got in. Longevity is a good thing, OK, it just is. And innings, strikeouts and wins are huge deals. Guys at the top of these categories are now and have always been Hall of Famers. Period.

Oh, right. Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn are too. Like, duh…

Talkback: Your comments are always encouraged…

Media Savvy: I was sorry to hear about the latest change in players at the various XTRAs, or KLAC, as I guess it’s called now. Not that I care about Joe Grande and Wayne Cook, particularly, but the Petros Papadakis mania truly mystifies me. I mean, the screaming. It’s a bleeping microphone, for crying out loud. It amplifies sound…

Nice, thrifty signing of Mark Loretta by the Houston Astros. I’m not sure why Loretta keeps getting disposed of so easily, except perhaps for the enhancements rumor that made the rounds about a year ago at this time. Who knows how these things get started?

Speaking of Kevin Towers, thanks a ton for the lovely, responsibility-avoiding Jake Peavy explanation: "The airport police told him he couldn't park his car there and he said, 'Write me up a ticket and I'll pay for it,' He was arrested.” Do the words “anger management issues” mean anything to the Padres, or was Mariano Duncan last seen moonlighting as a skycap at the Mobile Regional Airport?

Statue for Sandy: The Koufax in bronze campaign continues. Please Vote “Yes on 32.” And tell a friend…

Remember, glove conquers all….







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