The Hawk flies in

It only took nine years — in my never-humble opinion, that’s eight years too many — but slugging outfielder Andre “The Hawk” Dawson finally gained election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

Dawson didn’t make the necessary total by much. To be enshrined, a candidate has to pull a minimum of 75% of the ballots submitted by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA). Dawson netted 77.9%, 15 votes above the cutoff. Last year, he fell 44 ballots shy.

I’ve no explanation why it took Dawson nearly a decade to be elected to the Hall. Anyone who saw him play recalls The Hawk as both a formidable hitter and a talented outfielder during his lengthy major league career. He suffered a good deal from injuries toward the end of his run, and he hung on as a shadow of his former self for about three years beyond the point at which he should have retired. (I can name a few dozen legends of the game who committed that latter indignity, starting with two of my favorites, Willie Mays and Willie McCovey.) But in his prime — beginning with his Rookie of the Year season in 1977 and continuing through his last year with the Chicago Cubs in 1992 — Dawson defined the phrase “money player.”

I’m thrilled that he’s in.

If I’d had a ballot this year, I’d have also voted for:

Roberto Alomar, one of the two best all-around second basemen of my lifetime (Joe Morgan was the other — Jeff Kent, an average-to-dreadful defensive player, was the best offensive player I’ve seen at the position).

Jack Morris, the American League’s best starting pitcher throughout the 1980s.

Barry Larkin, a terrific shortstop on both sides of the ball.

Lee Smith, one of the most imposing closers I’ve ever seen, and former holder of the career record for saves.

I would not have voted for Bert Blyleven, whose 400 votes left him five short of election. Blyleven will get into the Hall eventually — which, if it accomplishes nothing else, will stop his annual whining about not getting in — but he shouldn’t. Blyleven may be the most overrated pitcher of the modern era (unless that’s Don Sutton, who’s already in the Hall, and should never have been elected). His current vote total is inflated by writers who simply look at the numbers, and not at the actual quality of play. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it every year until he finally cracks through: No one who actually saw Bert Blyleven pitch thinks he was a Hall of Fame-caliber pitcher. And if they do, they don’t know jack about baseball.

Every year, I’m stunned by the wasted votes at the bottom of the tote board. This year is no exception. I don’t know who the two writers were who voted for Ellis Burks, or the two who voted for Eric Karros, or the guys who cast solo votes for David Segui, Pat Hentgen, or Kevin Appier. These clueless people should never be allowed to vote for anything that involves baseball, ever again, period. (Burks, an outfielder who contributed two-plus excellent seasons for my beloved Giants, was a very fine player and, by all accounts, an outstanding teammate. But if he was a Hall of Famer, I’m Barry Bonds.)

Oh, and Mark McGwire? We’re not here to talk about the past.

Explore posts in the same categories: Hero of the Day, I Love the Giants, Listology, Ripped From the Headlines, Sports Bar

2 Comments on “The Hawk flies in”

  1. Sank Says:

    Uncle Swan, I bow to you’re knowledge. I now live in Blylevin country where the entire state whines about him. And I MEAN EVERYONE.

    BTW, Thinking of as I sit here and listen to the Warriors/Wolves on the radio. My two favorite teams playing for the NBA Version of the Friendship Game.. the toilet bowl if you know what I mean.

    • SwanShadow Says:

      Sank: The Bert “Be Home” Blyleven supporters — including ol’ Rik Aalbert himself — are a perfect example of why the Hall of Fame discussion has become an annual travesty.

      If you look at Blyleven’s career stats with any scrutiny at all, you’ll see a somewhat better-than-average pitcher whose overall numbers are inflated by the fact that he pitched for, like, ever. (22 seasons, to be precise.) If you ever watched him pitch — which I did, both in person (against the A’s) and numerous times on TV — that’s exactly what you saw. Yes, Blyleven’s curveball struck out a lot of guys, especially early in his career. It also got hammered a lot.

      Blyleven was a two-time All-Star (that’s right — only two All-Star appearances in 22 years) who won 20 games only once, 19 games only once, and whose average season record computes to 14-12. He was a legitimate Cy Young contender only three times and never finished higher than third in the voting. He garnered a grand total of five first-place votes in those three years (four in 1984, one in ’85). That means that during the 22 years when Blyleven was pitching, there were only five Cy Young voters who ever thought that he was the best pitcher in the American League, even for a season.

      Basically, Blyleven was the Barry Zito of his day. (And Zito, unlike Blyleven, actually has a Cy Young to his credit.) I love my Giants, but nobody’s going to put Zito in the Hall of Fame.

      Blyleven was nowhere near as good (and certainly not as dominant) a pitcher as Jack Morris was. He just played a few years longer. There’s no way he belongs in Cooperstown.

      Go Warriors! 🙂

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