Today, the Baseball Hall of Fame will announce the 2007 induction class. If you are a betting man/woman, put the farm on Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn, not that you did not already know that. However, the intriguing part of this announcement involves three former Cubs. Andre Dawson, Lee Smith and Goose Gossage are all heavily discussed candidates. Many have argued that Gossage deserves the call if Sutter received it. Personally, this logic should apply to Smith as well. Dawson has borderline Hall of Fame statistics, but this person’s biased approach would put The Hawk in the Hall. It is difficult for me to discuss some of these players at length due to my age, but Ripken and Gwynn were demi-gods when I was growing up. I was 15 years old in 1995 and remember Chris Berman’s voice booming through my living room as Cal Ripken homered the day he broke Lou Gehrig’s consecutive games played record. He single-handedly began bringing back baseball after the strike. I am not a Hall of Fame voter, nor am I am member of the Baseball Writers of America, but I do not understand how anyone would not vote for this man.
Though it is a bit hazy, I do remember a somewhat young and thin Tony Gwynn. He may be the best pure hitter of his time holding a lifetime career batting average of .338. That is absolutely incredible. He slapped the ball around, stole bases earlier on and was a gold glove outfielder multiple times. Again, I do not understand how someone would not vote for him. Inevitably neither Gwynn nor Ripken will get 100% of the votes, but they should be over 90%, at the very least, especially Ripken.
Now on to the three former Cubs, all of whom I surmise will be passed over again. Goose has the best argument due to the recent induction of Bruce Sutter. I only saw him pitch on the downside of his career when he was on the Cubs, but from what I have heard, he was plain nasty in his day and his day was somewhat lengthy. He pitched in the majors for 22 years recording 310 saves. While Sutter recorded 300 saves, he did so in 12 seasons, almost half the time. However, it needs to be pointed out that Gossage only had 13 saves over his last five years. By these stats, he is definitely comparable and in the eyes of many a pundit, he is deserving of the Hall’s call.
Lee Smith gets lost in many of these discussions and I am not sure why. I know I am a bit skewed as a Cubs fan, but the man held the All-Time Saves record for years. He finished his career with 478 saves and was just surpassed last season by Trevor Hoffman. From 1990-1995, Smith notched 247 saves. Now 6 years does not a career make, but that is more dominant than any 6-year span in Sutter’s career by more than 50 saves. Lee Smith had it all, speed and dominance. He intimidated hitters when he was on the mound and became the face of today’s closer. I feel Smith deserves to be called, but I doubt he will, at least this year.
Finally, there is the Hawk, Andre Dawson. To be honest, it is not fair for me to rule on this topic. If it were up to me, he would be in the Hall already. Every child has their favorite player growing up, the one who’s baseball card you cherished and did anything to acquire. I think at one point I had 40-some Andre Dawson cards. I mimicked his batting stance in my own games, well I tried until my dad or the coach made me stop. I loved the closed stance so much that when Jerome Walton opened the 1989 season I was stunned. “He is no good, his stance is the exact opposite of Dawson’s and that is just stupid.” Anyway, to be as unbiased as possible, I can readily admit that he is borderline. Some of his stats match up against Mays, but he fell short of the ‘mortal lock’ categories that are 3,000 hits and/or 500 homeruns. Above all else, he was revered. Ryno absolutely loved him and spoke very high of him during his Hall of Fame induction speech. I sure hope he gets in, I doubt it will happen, but I will be rooting harder for him than almost anyone else.
I said almost, and that almost is the Ron Santo qualifier. While we will have to wait another month or so to find out about Santo, he is my number 1. I have never been to Cooperstown in my life, but if he gets in, you’d better believe that I will be there for that, no matter what it takes. Swimming, driving, walking, flying, unpaid days, whatever I need to do, I will. I guarantee on that day that there will be more grown men will be sobbing than at any other ‘happy’ event ever. I will not even go into the stats and the argument, but it is simply a crock that he is not in the Hall of Fame. Baseball historian and bleeding heart liberal Keith Oblermann always mentions Santo’s name at the beginning of the “Who should be in” conversation. I just pray that I am breathing the fresh Cooperstown air come the end of July this year because we all know Ronny is going to need some help to get through that speech.
Feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and until next time….
Stay Classy Cubs Fans