Goose Gossage finally was elected to the Hall of Fame after it seems as if the BBWAA voters were shamed into giving him his due after last years’ snub. Perhaps it was the fact that Goose narrowly missed out on getting elected last year sealed the deal this year. For one thing it forced some folks to go back dig deeper into his record.
The thing about Gossage’s career is that it’s one thing on paper and something much deeper on the game logs. Sure, Gossage was the most dominant closer in the game for a handful of years. In fact he was so good that the Yankees went out and signed him to a big deal before the ’78 season even though Sparky Lyle won the Cy Young Award as the teams’ closer in 1977. But Goose spent the last decade of his career bouncing around the league from team to team and fighting injuries.
At a quick glance, the last bunch of years for Gossage hardly looked like the ledger of a guy headed for the Hall of Fame… and aren’t Hall of Famers supposed to be as consistent as clockwork?
But what the stat page doesn’t show is how Gossage put together a bunch of those saves – especially during the early years. These days when a closer is considered a workhorse for getting the occasional four-out save from time-to-time, it is fun to look at Gossage’s 1977 game log in his lone season with the Pittsburgh Pirates.
A quick glance there shows that of his 26 saves, only five were of three outs or less. Nine of them were two innings, three were two-plus innings, three were three innings or longer and the coup de grace, a mid September four-inning save in which Goose gave up one hit and struck out five.
Yeah, that’s right, a four-inning save.
So is Gossage Hall of Fame worthy… yes, absolutely. But then again based on some of the other folks enshrined in Cooperstown, Gossage wasn’t the only player who should have earned election to the Hall today. Gossage was baseball’s most dominant relief pitcher in the 1970s and the early 1980s so based on that criteria, Jim Rice should have been elected today as well. Why? Because Jim Rice was the game’s most dominant hitter from 1977 to 1979 and continued to be a perennial All Star to the mid-1980s by posting some gaudy numbers in an era before performance-enhancing drugs.
And if Tony Perez was good enough to be in the Hall of Fame, then Andre Dawson should be enshrined, too. And if Gaylord Perry or Robin Roberts are in then Bert Blyleven should be, too.
With that in mind here is how I would vote if I were a Hall of Fame voting member of the BBWAA, keeping in mind, of course, that I will never actively choose to be a member of the BBWAA. There’s a better chance that I would join the GOP or local Aryans group than be asked to join to BBWAA.
Anyway, here’s how I would have voted in the current system:
In this ballot I give points for guys who were the league’s best players at their position for a bunch of years in a row. I also give kudos to players who have remarkable seasons/performances, etc. In that vein, though most of his career was underwhelming, Roger Maris would get my vote.
This is how I would have voted if the Hall of Fame wasn’t so watered down with the likes of Perez and Ryne Sandberg:
That’s it (though it’s pretty hard to ignore Raines… maybe his 808 career stolen bases will garner a second-look next year).
As far as Mark McGwire goes, the answer is simple:
It will remain that way until baseball decides what to do with the records of the Steroids Era players. My suggestion is to separate them in the same way that the records pre-1900 were differentiated. Baseball calls the seasons after 1900 “The Modern Era.” Perhaps the seasons from 1990 and on can be called “The Post-Modern Era.”
Why not, postmodernism certainly worked well for Beckett.