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.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.