Legends On Deck

Baseball Hall Of Fame Elects Three

Hall of Fame announcement day is one of the best days of the baseball offseason.  Well, next to the start of the winter meetings and the start of the free agency period of course.  It is a time when the hard work and dedication to the game we all know and love pays off for a select few.  It is a time that doesn’t necessarily ends debates, but either cements your point of view or gives you more ammunition for the following winter.

Wednesday three lucky men were rewarded with enshrinement into the greatest fraternity known to man.  The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown isn’t where a players legacy goes to rest, its a place where it goes to be celebrated and remembered.

One his final year of eligibility, Tim Raines finally was given his due.  On his tenth and final year on the ballot, Raines received 86% of the votes (75% needed for enshrinement) and will be gracing the stage in July.  Finally.  He has come a long way since his first year on the ballot where he garnered just a little over 24% of the votes.  Criteria for the voters is certainly different, and the addition to known PED users to the ballot didn’t hurt matters either.

None of that should take away from what Rock Raines did on the field.  In 23 seasons, Raines appeared in 2,502 games, registering 2,605 hits, drawing 1,330 walks, and swiping 808 bases along the way playing for six different teams.  He played at a time when Rickey Henderson was stealing bases and the headlines and in a place (Montreal) which added to him getting lost in the shuffle a bit.  He was a seven-time All-Star while playing for the Expos, and played an important role in 1996 playing as a member of the New York Yankees and their return to glory.  This was something that was a long time coming and I am so happy that he is finally in.

Receiving a few more votes than Raines was Houston Astros slugger Jeff Bagwell.  Bagwell now joins fellow “Killer-B” Craig Biggio in Cooperstown in just his second year of eligibility.  Bagwell was acquired by the Astros from the Boston Red Sox in a very lopsided trade in 1990.  Houston sent pitcher Larry Andersen over to acquire a young Bagwell.  Andersen appeared in just 15 games for the Red Sox before being granted free agency.  The Astros always knew that they got the better end of that deal, now they can say it was for a Hall of Famer.

Bagwell had such a powerful swing and very odd batting stance.  He generated so much power and was able to blast 449 homers including a career high 47 back in 2000.  “Baggy” played his entire career in Houston where he won Rookie of the Year (1991) and MVP in strike shortened 1994.  He was a four-time All-Star, Gold Glove winner, and also picked up three Silver Sluggers.  Of course there was a cloud of suspicion surrounding “Bag Pipes” and his career, but at the end of the day none of it mattered to the voters and he will forever be referred to as Hall of Famer Jeff Bagwell.

Rounding out the three in his first year on the ballot is catcher Ivan Rodriguez.  “Pudge” was a force behind the plate and even at the plate.  I always knew him and was amazed more by his defense.  Rodriguez played in 2,543 games in the major leagues and a jaw-dropping 2, 427 games at one of the most demanding positions.  He had such a cannon for an arm that over 660 base runners found out first hand.  Rodriguez got 76% of the votes which was plenty to get him in.  The 14-time All-Star and former MVP was certainly deserving of first ballot distinction.

This almost could have been a class of five as two other players narrowly missed reaching 75%.  Closer Trevor Hoffman missed by just five votes and Vladimir Guerrero missed by 15.  It is almost certain that they will get the votes needed to elected next year.  According to MLB.com, this year was the first time since 1947 that five players received more than 70% of the votes.

There were several others that made positive progress including Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens.  They are still a bit away but both received over 50% and are trending in the direction toward being elected.

I have so many different feelings toward this as do many others.  The debates will go on forever whether they are in or out with so many people not being accepting of the outcome no matter what it is.  Maybe someday I will come to terms about how we were all robbed during this era, but unfortunately for now it is going to be a topic of discussion until players like Mike TroutBryce HarperCarlos Correa and others retire and are on the ballot.  Maybe the name of that era will be called “The Clean Era” and we can put this “Steroid Era” to rest.

Congratulations to Rodriguez, Raines, and Bagwell on being elected!


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