Tuesday, January 13, 2009

There's no pleasing some people....

It's January and football season is almost over {sob}, so of course I'm going to talk about baseball. I wouldn't call myself a rabid baseball fan, but I enjoy attending games and I usually keep up with what the Tigers are doing. The year of their last championship, 1984, I attended around a dozen games in person, and still remember watching Jack Morris throw a no-hitter on TV. I'm not obsessed with statistics, but I do like looking at numbers and thinking about historical debates. So I consider myself more than a casual fan, and thus just as qualified as any other internet geek to comment on the recent Hall of Fame induction of Rickey Henderson.

Now, as long as I can remember following baseball, I can remember Rickey Henderson. He began playing in 1979 and soon became known for his base-stealing ability. I liked watching him, not only for his amazing speed, but because he always looked like he was having fun out there. He played until he was 44 (he couldn't have needed the money, with over $40 mil in career salary), and even spent part of the 2001 season in the minors, hoping to come back to the Big Leagues. That year, when he was just a year younger than I am now, he played 123 games for the Padres and stole 25 bases.

If you look at his career statistics, they're amazing: #1 all-time in stolen bases (1,406) and runs scored (2,295). Second all-time in walks (2,190), 21st in hits (3,055); he had some power to go along with his speed, too, for his 297 home runs rank in the top 125 all-time. His 81 leadoff homers are baseball's all-time best, too. He was no slouch in the field, winning a Gold Glove, and won the AL MVP in 1990. He was a 10-time All-Star and, of course, holds the single-season records for stolen bases (130).

So it was no surprise that Henderson made it into the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility. He needed 75% of the vote from the Baseball Writers' Association of America, and got 94.8%, or 511 of 539 possible votes. Which made me wonder: what were those other 28 people thinking? Henderson was a bit outspoken (often confusingly so), but there's no taint of scandal surrounding him. If baseball's all-time leader in stolen bases and runs isn't a no-brainer for the Hall of Fame, what is? What else do they need to see?

"I'm sorry, Rickey, but I don't vote on the first date."
"I'm sorry, Rickey, but your teams only went 2-of-3 in the World Series."
"I'm sorry, Rickey, but you didn't prevent the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake."
"I'm sorry, Rickey, but I can't vote for anyone with an unnecessary 'e' in his name."

I guess some folks just can't be satisfied.


  1. I had forgotten all about Rickey Henderson until I read your rant uh blog.
    Thanks for the reminder.

    You do rant about the strangest things.

  2. I totally agree with both your rant and your mom.

    It's the same doofuses who didn't vote for Cal Ripken, I think.