As had been expected, center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury is in the Red Sox starting lineup on Wednesday night against the Rockies for the first time in 16 games. He was diagnosed September 8 with a compression fracture in his right foot and there was some initial concern about whether he’d be able to return by the end of the season. But here we are.
Ellsbury, an impending free agent, was batting .299/.355/.424 with 52 stolen bases and 89 runs scored through 131 games this summer for the American League East champions. The 30-year-old client of Scott Boras is already in line for a massive payday, but a strong regular-season finish and productive October run would only help his bottom line.
Mike Napoli is out of Boston’s lineup Wednesday for a fourth straight game due to plantar fasciitis.
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.