Would you vote for Barry Bonds/Roger Clemens/any of the players named in the Mitchell Report if you had a Hall of Fame vote? That’s a pretty tough question and one that will definitely be a hot topic when they both become eligible. I’ve got a question with an easier answer though. Should Jim Rice finally get into the Hall this year?
The answer, in short is hell yes. This year might even be a better year than any other. I’m not just griping because he isn’t in and he’s only got one more chance after this year – or because I am greedy for more Boston sport success. I truly believe that he should have been named to the Hall long ago but this year should be the year.
Consider the fact that baseball is on the verge of troubled times with the steroid skeletons being let out of the closet so why not vote in Rice. He was a dominant power hitter before the steroid era, the more drug cheats that are named make his stats look even better and his they are certainly worthy as it is.
Look at it this way Rice finished in the top five in MVP voting six times in his 16 year career, including his rookie season when he finished third in MVP voting and second in Rookie of the Year voting to his teammate Fred Lynn.
He also won an MVP, in 1978 of all years, and was an eight time all star. In ’78, one of the most important Red Sox seasons ever, he played in 163 games had 213 hits, 25 doubles, 15 triples, 46 home runs, 139 RBI and hit .315 with a .370 on base percentage. Thus the MVP award but over the course of his career Rice put up Hall worthy numbers.
Take into consideration the fact that from 1975 to 1986 he was in the top ten in virtually every category in the American League. He led the league in slugging twice, OPS once games once, at bats twice, hits once, total bases four times, triples once, home runs three times, RBI twice and extra base hits once.
All of those numbers are courtesy of baseball-reference by the way. Since stats have become so incredibly complex nowadays and are so prevalent in Hall of Fame talk consider this…Six times Rice was in the top six in runs created and ‘batting wins’ he led the league in both in ’78.
Anytime Rice and the Hall of Fame come up you hear about his relationship with the media and how he wasn’t the most cordial guy. I can understand a writer not liking a player or vice versa
I know we sometimes expect athletes to always cater to the every need of the media and fans but imagine if a crowd of reporters (by no fault of their own) jamming their tape recorders, cameras and microphones in your face every morning after you got out of the shower.
It’s definitely all part of the game but there are some people that relish that and other guys that just want to be left alone. You would certainly rather have guys be good to the media so that you as a fan can know what is going on but you just aren’t going to get that from everyone.
I only can speak from what I have read about his playing days but I have met Jim Rice on a couple of occasions and he’s a really nice guy. Not to mention the fact that he can drive a golf ball wicked fah kid.
My point is that as far as the Hall of Fame goes it really doesn’t matter if you were a super nice guy that granted every interview request and signed an autograph for every one that asked or if you were a total jerk that scowled at the mere sight of a newspaper or autograph seeker.
That stuff doesn’t matter when it comes to the Hall of Fame. There are obviously certain red flags – like gambling (see Pete Rose and the 1919 Black Sox) or steroids – time will tell on that one – just like which movie will be bigger E.T. or Krush Groove – With those exceptions aside the only thing that should really matter in Hall voting for a player is what they did between the lines. It’s not a popularity contest like All-Star Games have become.
Keeping a guy out of the Hall of Fame because he wasn’t nice to you is like being a bouncer at any bar sitting in your tower holding dominion over all the poor suckers waiting outside in the cold so they can get in on nine dollar beer night. That is getting a little too drunk with power, if he doesn’t deserve to get in then he shouldn’t get in but if he deserves it then he should be enshrined.
The bottom line when it comes to the Hall of Fame is numbers and Rice’s numbers are up to snuff. He has very similar stats as Orlando Cepeda, Duke Snider, Billy Williams (not to be confused with Billy D. Williams) and Willie Stargell – all Hall of Famers. In short the guy was a dominant player during his time and should be in the Hall of Fame.
Let’s hope that the Baseball Writers of America agree and finally give him his due before he gets left up to the veterans committee.