I'll leave any commentary on the New Hampshire primary to my fellow 2loggers, but I did want to throw in my 28 about another election whose results were announced today. The Baseball Writers' Association of America today chose Goose Gossage
as the only new player to join the Hall of Fame.
As I've commented before
, I admire the Baseball Hall of Fame because it is so selective when it comes to new inductees. It was interesting this year to see who didn't make it. I borrowed this chart from MLB.com
Jim Rice, Andre Dawson, and probably Bert Blyleven stand a good chance of being inducted in the next few years (they would need to be selected on 75% of ballots). But further down the list, the hopes have to be much slimmer. Growing up, I regarded many of these players as "future Hall-of-Famers": Don Mattingly, David Justice, and Dale Murphy, not to mention Mark McGwire. These are not exactly the Dave Clark Fives and the Ventures
of the baseball world.
The first article I linked to has an interesting discussion of the way the role of relief pitchers has changed in recent years. Goose Gossage, as a closer, pitched many more innings than just about anyone in his role does today, because bullpens have gotten so specialized. At the end of the Phillies' run last season, manager Charlie Manuel had perfected a late-inning pitching strategy: J.C. Romero in the 7th, Tom Gordon in the 8th, and Brett Myers in the 9th. The three of these guys together did the same job that Gossage did during his career: take the game from the starting pitcher up to the end of the game. Lee Smith, who was named on just 43.3% of ballots, was the premier closer of his day, and held the all-time saves record until Trevor Hoffman broke it a couple years ago. Does Smith deserve to be in the Hall? Just as for McGwire, I don't think the choice is clear, but for different reasons. McGwire is suspected of using steroids, ergo cheating; without those suspicions, his career statistics surely merit him a place in Cooperstown. Smith's fault is that he was the best at a position that hadn't fully evolved yet.
Among players who may deserve to be in the Hall, there's of course another name that's not even on the ballot. I believe Pete Rose (and Shoeless Joe Jackson, for that matter) should be inducted. Pete Rose played baseball the way I think it should be played--hustle, blood and guts, creating plays through sheer effort where they had no right to be. As a manager, though, he bet on games that his team was playing, and for this he was banned from baseball for life. I am no expert, but can't compulsive gambling be considered a mental illness? If so, I think this sort of ethical transgression is different from the one McGwire is suspected of committing; whereas Rose was arguably not fully in control of his actions, (*allegedly) McGwire deliberately sought an unfair advantage through steroids. Besides which, Rose only bet for the Reds, never against them
Does Pete Rose belong in Cooperstown, or do I belong in the Cooper State Mental Institution