Rafael Betancourt initially indicated that he planned to try rest and rehab after being diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow, but now the 39-year-old Rockies reliever has changed his mind.
Betancourt explained to a Venezuelan newspaper that he’ll undergo Tommy John surgery because “they told me there was little chance of recovery with current treatment” and “it would be sad to come to the end of my career this way, after all I’ve been through.”
Even if his recovery from surgery goes well Betancourt will likely miss all of next season and at his age he may never come back to pitch in the big leagues. And the injury means the Rockies will decline his $4.25 million option for 2014, so it’s doubly bad timing for the late-blooming reliever who turned into a very good closer after not making his big-league debut until age 28.
Former Yankees closer Mariano Rivera deservingly became the first player ever inducted into the Hall of Fame unanimously, receiving votes from all 425 writers who submitted ballots. Previously, the closest players to unanimous induction were Ken Griffey, Jr. (99.32% in 2016), Tom Seaver (98.84% in 1992), Nolan Ryan (98.79% in 1999), Cal Ripken, Jr. (98.53%), Ty Cobb (98.23% in 1936), and George Brett (98.19% in 1999).
Because so many greats were not enshrined in Cooperstown unanimously, many voters in the past argued against other players getting inducted unanimously, withholding their votes for otherwise deserving players. That Griffey — both one of the greatest outfielders of all time and one of the most popular players of all time — wasn’t voted in unanimously in 2016, for example, seemed to signal that no player ever would. Now that Rivera has been, this tired argument about voting unanimity can be laid to rest.
Derek Jeter will appear on the Hall of Fame ballot for the first time next year. He may become the second player ever to be elected unanimously. David Ortiz appears on the 2022 ballot and could be No. 3. Now that Rivera has broken through, these are possibilities whereas before they might not have been.
Another tired argument around Hall of Fame voting concerns whether or not a player is a “first ballot” Hall of Famer. Some voters think getting enshrined in a player’s first year of eligibility is a greater honor than getting in any subsequent year. I’m not sure what it will take to get rid of this argument — other than the electorate getting younger and more open-minded — but at least we have made progress on at least one bad Hall of Fame take.