It’s rather silly that there have never been any unanimous Hall of Fame inductees. But really, there were some people who actually submitted votes who didn’t vote for Willie Mays, Hank Aaron, Tom Seaver, Cal Ripken and many others (actually every other) when they were first up for induction into Cooperstown.
It’s a story of brain-dead inertia, really. For whatever reasons, likely having to do with the voting system and/or misapprehending the nature of the institution and the honor, a lot of early immortals were not selected unanimously. Then, when guys like Ted Williams and others showed up, people would say “well, if Ty Cobb wasn’t unanimous, how can Ted Williams be?” And that has carried on down. It’s much the same reason why there is a big backlog of candidates now: silly precedents causing voters to tie themselves in knots.
Or possibly because a lot of Hall of Fame voters are morons who don’t get baseball, but I’m willing to give them all the benefit of the doubt. Publicly.
Anyway, against that backdrop Richard Justice of MLB.com wrote over the weekend that maybe, just maybe, Mariano Rivera will be the first unanimous selection. Go give it a read.
My thinking: if Greg Maddux doesn’t get it next year no one will, but hopefully Rivera will get it. And Jeter. Frankly, a ton of guys should. I worry, though, that a lot of voters believe that relief pitchers are the work of the devil and will leave him off. Or will cite that precedent stuff I mentioned above. Or will grandstand and submit blank ballots which, if submitted, must be counted as no votes.
It doesn’t matter I guess, as Rivera will certainly get in. But I really would like to get inside the head of some of these dudes who vote.
World Series Game 1 was billed as a battle of aces, the Dodgers’ Clayton Kershaw against Chris Sale of the Red Sox. Between them, they have 14 All-Star Game nominations. Kershaw has won three Cy Young Awards. Sale could his first Cy Young Award this year. Among his 10 seasons with at least 110 innings pitched, Kershaw has never posted an ERA above 2.92. Sale has been at 2.90 or below in each of the last two seasons. The two have combined for over 4,000 career strikeouts and both have averaged better than a strikeout per inning over their careers.
And yet Tuesday’s Game 1 was anything but a pitcher’s duel between Kershaw and Sale. Though a couple of fielding mistakes weren’t of any help to Kershaw in the first inning, Red Sox batters were squaring him up good. Of the five balls put in play in the first inning, three had exit velocities of 100 MPH or higher. Of the 12 total balls put in play against him overall, five reached triple digits in exit velo.
Kershaw gave up a pair of runs in the first, another run in the third on a J.D. Martinez double to straightaway center field, and another two in the fifth. Kershaw led off the fifth by walking Mookie Betts, then giving up a single to Andrew Benintendi, ending his night. Ryan Madson relieved Kershaw and proceeded to allow both inherited runners to score. All told, Kershaw yielded five runs on seven hits and three walks with five strikeouts on 79 pitches in four-plus innings.
Sale, meanwhile, was on the hook for individual runs in the second, third, and fifth. Dodger hitters weren’t squaring him up quite as well as the Red Sox batters squared up Kershaw, but Sale was still more hittable than usual. Of the eight balls put in play against him, four were at least 90 MPH in exit velo. One of the runs was a no-doubt solo home run to Matt Kemp in the second. The Dodgers chased Sale in the fifth when he issued a leadoff walk to Brian Dozier. Matt Barnes relieved him allowed the inherited runner to score. Overall, Sale threw 91 pitches in four-plus innings, serving up three runs on five hits and two walks with seven strikeouts.
The game is now, as has been generally the case throughout this postseason, a battle of the bullpens.