At The Ballyard ... with Steve Weissman

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

No Rice in this HoF Recipe

– Did Odd Vote-Getters Cost Sox Slugger Enshrinement? –

It’s a shame, really, that Red Sox lifer Jim Rice wasn’t voted into baseball’s Hall of Fame yesterday, but not for the reasons you might think. Statistically, I can see where some might believe he’s not worthy: after all, he didn’t hit 400 home runs, didn’t hit .300 for his career, didn’t win the World Series, etc. But there’s no question he was a – perhaps the – dominant force of his era, and I can only shake my head about the collective thinking that gave votes to Walt Weiss and Doug Jones, but left Rice a mere 53 short of enshrinement.

A quick review of the complete tally reveals what to my eye is some rather odd vote-casting. Two for Gregg Jefferies, who arrived on the scene as a candidate for “can’t miss” status and instead turned in a highly ordinary career? Three for Rick Aguilera, who certainly was solid but was no, well, Bruce Sutter? Seventeen for Dwight Gooden, who is the poster boy for how to take a sure-fire HoF career and run it off the rails?

What’s frustrating is that adding the votes spent on the bottom third of vote-getters to Rice’s total puts the Sox slugger in the Hall. I’m guessing – and can only hope! – that most of the writers who endorsed these last 10 also voted for Rice. But I still can’t fully rationalize how Gary Gaetti can get votes and Rice still can’t get in.

Oh well; perhaps it’s as Winston Churchill once described democracy: the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.

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