Via BTF comes a story from the Fort Wayne News-Sentinel in which former Pirate Dave Parker says that, in his humble opinion, he should be in the Hall of Fame. He’s said this before, of course. He’s one of the more active retired players when it comes to that sort of thing.
And whenever he says it, I say the same thing: Parker’s prime was nice, but it was far too short to carry a peak-heavy, Sandy Koufax-style Hall of Fame candidacy. And then, after that awesome short peak, drugs and weight problems put him in the wilderness for a good five or six years, then he had a brief, but overrated blip with the Cincinnati Reds, and then he tailed off like most older players do, going form town to town, up and down the dial.
If that hadn’t happened — if he had kept himself in shape and off the blow during what should have been the prime of his career — sure, we’d be having a different conversation right now. But it didn’t go down like that. As a result, Parker had less overall career value than Jim Rice did, and Jim Rice shouldn’t have made the Hall of Fame himself.
Sorry, Dave. Buy a ticket.
All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.
The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.
It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.
It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.
Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉