What happened to Garvey is partly schadenfreude: writers turned on him for a complicated personal life that smudged an image so golden that he once had a middle school named after him. But he’s also one of the great players from that period who have been hurt by the inflation of statistics fueled by increasing use of PEDs, which happened to coincide with the HOF eligibility for the earlier era. And, as Garvey points out, “That was also a period when the veteran writers who relied on what they saw gave way to younger writers who focused on statistics.”
The irony, of course, is that the writers are now punishing the players whose numbers they feel were artificially bolstered. Wouldn’t it be nice if they could channel their disillusionment into a more positive re-examination of those who have been relegated to the scrap heap?
Like Garvey, Dave Parker will have to wait until the Veterans Committee gets around to sifting through players of the modern era, looking for gold. Not to diminish Jim Rice, but as someone who covered Parker and Rice in their primes, I can testify that Parker was the superior player in almost every regard.
“I went to Cooperstown for Barry Larkin’s induction last year,” said Parker, who took Larkin under his wing in Cincinnati. “It would’ve been nice to have gone as a fellow Hall of Famer. I think I belong there. Let’s put it this way—on almost every team I played, I was ‘The Guy’ or one of them. The system needs to be changed.”
That won’t happen anytime soon. But minds can be changed: how else did Bert Blyleven go from 14.1 percent in his second year of eligibility to 79.7 percent in his 14th year? Voters need to take a closer look at players they may have bypassed because they didn’t see them. And just as they agonize over what the “Valuable” means in Most Valuable Player, they need to think about what the “Fame” in Hall of Fame really means. (Uh, 10 All-Star Games is a pretty good definition.)
“I know voters are worried about steroids this year,” Garvey said. “I would much rather they think about the shot of adrenalin that a few more players would give the Hall of Fame.”
Posted: December 17, 2012 at 12:49 PM | 67 comment(s)
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