Rice will go deep in final Cooperstown at-bat
When one of my bosses called me this afternoon to give me the Hall of Fame results, he made the following opening remark:
Do you want the good news first or the bad news?
"Good news," I said.
"Jim Rice is going to the Hall of Fame."
"Great," I said. "What’s the bad news?"
"It’s not going to be until next year," he said.
Great line. And probably true. By gaining 72.2 percent of the votes, it seems a virtual lock that Rice will get those 16 extra votes next year that he lacked this year. History proves it. In the 20 times a potential candidate has received 70 percent of the votes but less than 75, he has eventually gained entry.
Given that next year is Rice’s final try on the writer’s ballot, I’d have to think certain writers will be more apt to give him the benefit of the doubt.
Granted, I grew up watching this man hit every day when I was a kid and a fan — long before I became a professional journalist — I don’t think that is swaying my opinion. Looking at it objectively, this guy was a dominant hitter for a decade plus. Crunch his numbers from 1975-86 and you will find a man who was more productive than any hitter in the American League at that time.
Those who think Rice was a product of Fenway Park simply don’t get it. Rice was never a pull hitter. He was always a guy who went to all fields. In fact, if he had played at Yankee Stadium with that short right field porch, he probably would have finished with 50 to 60 more career homers. If anything, the Green Monster took home runs away from Rice because of the blazing line drives he hit into it. Sure, Fenway helped Rice’s average. But definitely not his power.
I don’t get the longevity thing. So if Rice would have hung around an extra four or five years and had a bunch of mediocre numbers and tacked on to his hit and home run totals, all of a sudden he’s a Hall of Famer? In my mind, a Hall of Famer is someone who was dominant at his craft. Jim Rice was a lethal hitter. Just ask Goose Gossage.
Rice and Rickey Henderson in ’09. That should be an entertaining induction ceremony.