Unanimous Mo (…?)

I’ve regarded the question of whether or not Mariano Rivera’s induction into the Baseball Hall of Fame would be from a unanimous vote among the BBWAA voters as an inane discussion.

Really – what would a non-unanimous vote prove?  That there are wacky people out there?  That there are people who say things just to generate clicks?

We know those things already, so there isn’t much there to discuss.

And the percentage of yes votes doesn’t really matter does it?  He’s getting in overwhelmingly, so what’s the point of quibbling over a percentage or two once we hit the high nineties percentile?

Furthermore, what’s the crime if the vote is not unanimous?

For some perspective, 23 professional baseball writers did not feel Willie Mays was a Hall of Fame player when they voted.  WILLIE MAYS.  Twenty three.  If one or two knuckleheads don’t vote for Mo it wouldn’t be the affront most people think.  And if you’re thinking that Mays’ lack of votes may be a generational thing, 49 writers didn’t think Pedro Martinez was worthy of the Hall and that was three and a half years ago.  (Raises eyebrows, checks numbers, shakes head…)

That being said, there is an aspect of this that needs to be discussed.  Because what I’ve seen from those who feel Mo’s vote should not be unanimous or that perhaps he isn’t a Hall of Fame player, has a common thread or two, which we can chat about without my blog deteriorating into the gossipy nonsense that is most of the discussions nowadays.  Seriously, most discussions about the Hall aren’t really even discussions – did you see Chris Russo and Tony LaRussa discussing Harold Baines?  They should have had dryers on their heads while they were chirping about God knows what.

Trust me, I’m still learning.   But one of the many things I’ve learned with certainty is that when it comes to debates like this one, is that multiple things can be true at the same time.  Another truism is that people LOVE their straw man arguments.

For example, if your point is that the save statistic is absurd, I agree.  I’ve been saying it for years.  I’ve never used saves as a measurement for a pitcher’s performance and I chuckle at the silliness of those who do.

Point two:  If your argument is that the role of the “closer” is a silly concept, you’re right again.  Closers generally have an easier job than the non-closer relief pitchers.  This is why I try to avoid the term altogether in my blog and I chuckle at the silliness of those who use the term “closer” as an implication of the pitcher’s value to his team.

But just because the “save” being silly is true and the term “closer” being a silly one is true, does NOT mean that Mariano Rivera is not a Hall of Fame pitcher.

Because he is the best relief pitcher who ever played, period.  That is worthy of Hall of Fame induction.

See what I did there?  I knocked down a common straw man by specifying “relief” pitcher.  I’m not saying he was better than Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson or Pedro.

But he was better than Rollie Fingers.  He was better than Goose Gossage.  He was better than Dennis Eckersly.

And he sure as hell was better than 10 Trevor Hoffmans and Lee Smiths.

There’s no need for tables with numbers or an investigation of advanced metrics.  We all know they show him to be the best relief pitcher of all time.

And I generally despise the “eye test” evaluations, as some folks’ eyes aren’t as good as others.  But in a case where everyone’s eyes agree, it is a factor.  And I don’t know any reasonable person whose eyes tell him or her that Rivera wasn’t the best relief pitcher of all time.

So if you’re getting your Yankee scarf in a bunch because there’s a simple-minded kook or two who makes weak arguments, don’t.

Enjoy the memories of the domination.  Of the automatic, almost robotic nature of his performance.  Of the postseason sovereignty.

And of the damn good fortune, he was on our side.


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