Jim Rice Deserved The Hall Of Fame More Than Rickey Henderson!

13 Jan

Good news today for me as a big part of my childhood was validated.  I grew up in the New York area rooting for the Red Sox.  My Junior High memories consist largely of fending back the taunts of the many Yankee fans who were my classmates during the awful summer of ’78.

One of the few things that got me through those lean Red Sox years was the knowledge that my team had Jim Rice on it.  Sure, the Yankees had Reggie and he absolutely had a flair for the dramatic.  But, I knew from the mid-70s to the early 80s that my team had the most feared slugger in the game on it.  Rice could hit for power and average.  Reggie?  Well…. He hit for power and drama.

After waiting 15 inexcusable years, Jim Rice made the Hall of Fame today.  In doing so, Rice proved that my childhood memories of his greatness and all it meant to me were real.  Rice is a baseball great.  He was an all timer in his heyday and it was documented and ratified today by Cooperstown.  About time!

Maybe it’s the heady air of baseball Olympus, but let me say one more thing.  Jim Rice deserved the Hall of Fame more than Rickey Henderson.

Yes, OVERALL, Henderson is clearly more of a slam dunk as a Hall of Famer.  He is, without a doubt, one of the best lead off men in the history of the game.  It likely comes down to him, Pete Rose or  Ty Cobb.  In contrast, Rice’s career came to a relatively early end due to series of injuries that prevented him from putting up numbers that would have more than solidified his case.

But you know what?  Back in the day, how many of us would have taken Jim Rice over Rickey Henderson if given the chance?  That’s right.  A whole lot of us. 

I love the sabermetric approach to baseball.  I think Bill James is one of the smartest minds ever to waste his time studying baseball & am thankful he did.  Due to James and his ilk, we know so much more about the game.  I’m a big believer in on base percentage.

That all said, I remember the era that Rice played in.  Back in those days, there weren’t that many guys who could do what he could.  Forty homers, .320 batting average and a ton of RBIs meant something in the 1970s.  It meant intimidation and teams working hard to beat you.

Rickey, though amazing and clearly disruptive to other teams, was never viewed or game planned against as Jim Rice was when both were at their best.  Knowing what we know know about the important of on base percentage, etc, maybe those 70s  & 80s managers and baseball executives were wrong to value Rice more than Henderson.  But, they did.  That has to count for something.

No matter what else Rice’s shortcomings (hitting into double plays, not the greatest defensively), no one ever doubted Jim Rice came to play.

Can the same be said of Rickey?  I don’t think so.  In the rush to make Rickey a first ballot HOFer, everyone seems to have forgotten Rickey’s Yankee tenure.  While in pin stripes, Henderson became unhappy about his contract, which resulted in him clearly dogging it to protest. 

That’s a first ballot hall of famer?

Jim Rice had to wait 15 long years and Rickey Henderson gets in on  one ballet with nary a mention of the fact that for certain stretches of his career he simply didn’t show up to play. 

No one ever said it was a fair world.

My point isn’t that Henderson isn’t a first ballot guy.  My point isn’t that Henderson didn’t accomplish more his career.

My point is that after being made to wait for far too long, Jim Rice finally came home today.  And due to his long and unwarranted  journey through the Cooperstown wilderness, Jim Rice deserved today even more than Rickey Henderson.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: