43-year-old Darren Oliver retired last fall after 20 seasons in the majors and the Rangers announced today that he has been appointed as a special assistant to the general manager. Not surprisingly, his efforts will be focused on pitching.
Here’s part of the announcement from Rangers general manager Jon Daniels:
“We are very happy to welcome Darren Oliver into an official capacity with the Rangers,” said Daniels. “Darren will focus on pitching on both the major and minor league levels, and he will have a presence in Arlington and with our minor league affiliates. I also expect that he will be a valuable sounding board to our baseball operations group on all fronts.
“Darren has been working with us on an informal basis over the last several months and was a great asset on our trip to the Dominican Republic in January and during his several weeks at spring training camp. I am glad that we have been able to formalize that relationship.”
Oliver spent the final two seasons of his career with the Blue Jays, but he was originally drafted by the Rangers way back in 1988 and had three stints with the club. The southpaw started in the team’s first playoff game in 1996 and later made postseason relief appearances with Texas from 2010-2011. He still resides in the Dallas-Fort Worth metropolitan area.
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.