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No Hall of Fame for Dale Murphy?

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Jose de Jesus Ortiz finally

got something right

. He voted for Rich Gossage. And Rich Gossage got

86 percent

of the vote from the baseball writers to gain admittance into the Baseball Hall of Fame.

And to that I can only say: finally. Both to Ortiz for finally getting something right, and to the baseball writers for finally giving Gossage enough votes. It took nine tries for Gossage to get the required vote. And I just can’t understand why it took so damn long.

Gossage is, in my opinion, as well as some of the more respected baseball writers, the best relief pitcher in the history of baseball. Yet he had to wait while lesser likes were voted in before him. He had to listen to the uninformed talk about Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman being the greatest relief pitchers in the history of baseball because they have more saves than Gossage. (Not to diss Rivera and Hoffman who are very, very good.)

But anyone who ever watched Gossage knows he was the true save artist.

Managers didn’t send Gossage into the ninth inning with the team holding a three-run lead and needing only three outs to get a save. Gossage entered games in the sixth inning with the bases loaded and the team holding a one-run lead. Then he pitched the rest of the game. He literally saved the game. He didn’t have the lead handed to him. He wasn’t some wimpy closer. He ate guys like Brad Lidge for breakfast.

Better than me, better than anyone, SI.com’s Tom Verducci states why Goose Gossage is the greatest relief pitcher in the history of baseball. The stat cited by Verducci that sticks out most for me is the innings pitched: four times in his career, Gossage saved 25 games in a season while pitching more than 100 innings. In current baseball usage, most relief pitchers get more than 40 saves and rarely pitch more than 50 or 60 innings.

Verducci’s column also touches on one of the things that most bugs me. Shouldn’t your best relief pitcher be used to stop the bleeding and keep the game close? Verducci throws out another stat: today, more teams with leads in the seventh inning lose than teams that had leads in the sixties. That’s because instead of going to the best relief pitcher, the manager goes to Trever Miller. This isn’t an indictment of Trevor Hoffman, Mariano Rivera, or Joe Nathan. It’s an indictment of the managers who think that because Tony La Russa did it this way, they must all do it this way. But what all of the managers failed to see is that La Russa had no other option: Dennis Eckersley was an aging starter who no longer had an arm that allowed him to pitch two to three innings a game. But Eckersley was still his best reliever, so he had to find a way to optimize his performance. And pitching him for one inning with a lead was the way to do it.

I’ve gotten off on a sidetrack. I want to congratulate Goose Gossage. He deserved this honor many, many years ago. And it’s about frigging times that the idiots like Ortiz got it right.

But wait, I’m not done. Gossage was the only player elected into the Hall. Which shows once again that, for the most part, the writers are a bunch of frigging idiots. And they’re a bunch of frigging idiots when it comes to one of the most dominating players of the 1980s. That’s right, I’m talking about Dale Murphy.

Jim Rice is the player most people are arguing has been robbed. And Rice was close, receiving 72 percent of the vote (75 percent is needed for enshrinement). What people say about Rice is that he’s a former MVP who had good power numbers in the non-steroids era. And I ask of you, doesn’t that apply as well to Murphy, who for some reason, received only 14 percent of the vote?

I came in on the middle of a Charlie Pallilo conversation yesterday afternoon (3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on 790 AM, and I’m going to keep plugging him in hopes of getting a mention on the show, the best sports talk show in the city) and he was discussing Murphy. His conclusion was that Murphy was a good player, but he wasn’t Jim Rice or Andre Dawson – Dawson received 66 percent of the vote. But the stats are clear on this: if Rice should be in the Hall, then so should Murphy.

Jim Rice played 16 seasons (all with the Boston Red Sox). He was a mediocre outfielder who finished his career with one MVP award, 2,452 hits, 382 homers, two Silver Slugger awards, and he was an eight time American League All-Star. Let’s contrast with Murphy, who played 18 seasons (with the Atlanta Braves, Philadelphia Phillies, and Colorado Rockies), who was a two-time National League MVP (back-to-back) with 2,111 hits, 398 homers, four Silver Slugger awards, a seven time National League All-Star, and the winner of five Gold Gloves. Rice’s career on-base percentage was .352 compared to Murphy’s .346. Rice’s career slugging percentage was .502 compared to Murphy’s .469. Rice finished with 1,451 RBI contrasted to Murphy’s 1,266.

They both played in the late 70s through the late 80s / early 90s. Rice consistently played on a playoff contender with teammates who at various times included Carlton Fisk, Carl Yastrzemski, Dwight Evans, Wade Boggs, Don Baylor, Bill Buckner, and Fred Lynn.

Quick, besides Phil Niekro, name a Brave from that period. (I’m hoping that some of you at least remember Bob Horner and Biff Pocoroba.) If Rice should get the benefit for being a power hitter in a non-steroid era, then Murphy should be getting the benefit for being a power hitter and a far superior all-around player in that same non-steroid era.

But what do I know? Maybe the problem is that Murphy doesn’t have Cecil Cooper pimping him to a bunch of ignorant beat writers who didn’t watch baseball in the 70s and 80s – that’s right, I’m talking to you Ortiz. Maybe it would be different if it was Murphy who had played for Boston and had the Red Sox nation pushing him? I wonder how it would be if it was Jim Rice playing in the black hole that was the 80s Braves?

This is a losing cause. Just like Suzy Kolber was never going to be Playboy’s sexiest broadcaster, Dale Murphy’s never going to gain votes and get into the Hall. But if it’s a travesty that Rice can’t get in, then it’s got to be an even bigger travesty that Murphy can’t get in.


Before I go, I’ve got some miscellaneous baseball notes.

First: Andy Pettitte might not be appearing before Congress next week, at least according to his new attorney. I don’t envy Pettitte. The guy fell on the sword and admitted to the truth about his HGH use. And now everyone’s looking to him to support either McNamee or Clemens. If ever there’s a time to forget how to speak English, now is it. (Also, joking aside, Pettitte’s son was seriously injured last week, so best wishes.)

Second: I didn’t think Clemens and Hardin could stoop even lower. But what I didn’t know yesterday (and I don’t recall hearing it in the press conference Monday though it’s possible I missed it) is that McNamee sent Clemens an e-mail asking Clemens to call and speak to McNamee’s son who is ill and who looks up to Clemens. It was the basis of this e-mail that Clemens and Hardin set up the phone call ambush. Stay classy Rocket.

Third: Clemens, McNamee, Pettitte, etc. are supposed to appear before Congress next Wednesday. I’m done with this topic until then. I can’t take it anymore. I need a break. Besides, if I give him a week, there’s no telling how many more times Clemens will get caught up in a lie.

Fourth: Shawon Duston, Chuck Finley, and Todd Stottlemyre each received one vote for the Hall of Fame. I guess this is the equivalent of voting for Duncan Hunter or Mike Gravel. Ortiz wasn’t even this stupid (though anybody who votes for Dave Concepcion, Don Mattingly and Lee Smith over Dale Murphy ain’t exactly the brightest bulb).

Fifth, and finally: the national media is beginning to prepare for the upcoming baseball season. And let’s just say that the Astros starting rotation of Roy Oswalt and the four dwarfs isn’t exactly inspiring much confidence. Which means that Ortiz is going to name it the best rotation in major league baseball. – John Royal

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