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Thursday, January 19, 2017

Sox In The Hall

I have to admit, I have lost a lot of interest in the Hall of Fame over the years.  I find that where once there were fun arguments about who belonged and who didn’t it now largely comes down to one set of people making it the Hall of Guys That Weren’t Mean and the other set making it a Hall of WAR.  Neither of those things particularly appeals to me.

As happy as I am for the three very deserving inductees I’ll leave it to others to talk about them and I want to touch on a few memories of three of the Sox who were on the ballot this year and came up short, two of whom will not return next year (edit: sorry jmurph);

Tim Wakefield (1 vote)
- I have to confess that one of the first questions I asked a friend when the balloting was announced (I was running errands) was “did Wake get a vote?”  Yeah, he’s not a Hall of Famer but I’m thrilled he got a vote.  He is one of my all time favorite players both for his performances on the field and his behavior off it.  The 200 game winner is best remembered for the 2004 ALCS and I think it was wonderful that the then longest serving member of the Red Sox was the one to throw the first pitch of the 2004 World Series.

One of my favorite memories of him involves a different Yankee blowout.  On June 19, 2000 Wake entered a game the Sox were already trailing 15-1.  He got the final out of the 8th then got battered in the ninth issuing three walks, surrendering two dingers and seven runs before Clay Bellinger finally fanned, probably out of pity ending the inning.  I don’t remember his exact comments after the game but they were along the lines of “hey, someone had to get us through that.  We’ll get ‘em tomorrow.”  That summed up Tim Wakefield to me.

Jason Varitek (2 votes) - It’s funny, that game with the Yankees also has a Jason Varitek moment I remember distinctly.  With the Sox down a touchdown already Derek Jeter reached on a throwing error.  On the play the ball was ticketed for the dugout but ‘Tek went into a full dive to keep it out (this was before the screens in front of the dugout) and save a run for the moment.  In practical terms it was meaningless, heck you can argue it was dumb and why risk injury?  But as a fan I loved it.  Seeing a guy playing hard because that was his job, not because there was a meaningful practical outcome, I loved that.

Manny Ramirez (105 votes - 23.8%) - In a lot of ways Manny Ramirez was as different from Wake and ‘Tek as you could get but I loved the guy.  Few players have ever lived up to their billing both good and bad the way Manny Ramirez did.  My first Opening Day as a season ticket holder was his first home game and I will never forget him taking the first pitch he saw and driving it onto Landsdowne Street.  Manny could be exasperating but just when you thought “I’m done with this guy” he would hit another rocket to the Pike or just have one of those at bats where he was less hitter and more artist.  Never in my lifetime have the Sox had a hitter who could adjust and adapt like Manny could.

Of course his defense got a lot of criticism (and it deserved it) but to his credit he improved over the years.  He became adept at playing the wall and while he never had a particularly strong arm he had a quick release and was generally accurate which were skills that played well in Fenway.  More than that, those skills came in handy in game three of the 2004 World Series when he helped bail Pedro Martinez out of just about the last jam that magical team had when he gunned down Larry Walker at the plate to complete a first inning double play.

Regardless of whether or not these players deserve and/or receive enshrinement this is what makes the Hall of Fame meaningful to me.  It is an opportunity to look back and appreciate players from the past and remember and appreciate the history of this incredible game.

Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: January 19, 2017 at 08:38 AM | 8 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. villageidiom Posted: January 19, 2017 at 09:23 AM (#5385828)
My first Opening Day as a season ticket holder was his first home game and I will never forget him taking the first pitch he saw and driving it onto Landsdowne Street.
That was my second season as a season ticket holder, and because of traffic coming up from CT I didn't get to the game until after the 1st inning.

My Manny HR moment was when he hit the lights atop the Monster. Not the light pole; the lights. I've no doubt that HR would have been the longest ever at Fenway if the lights hadn't gotten in the way. (He'd hit a 463' HR earlier in the day, too.)

This is my favorite memory of Manny on defense. The combination of irresponsibility, entertainment, and positive result is hard to beat.
   2. villageidiom Posted: January 19, 2017 at 09:41 AM (#5385846)
Wakefield was a team player. His first two starts for Boston came in a 4-day span. Two days rest? Sure. He asked to pitch in 2003 ALCS Game 3 to save the rest of the team for Game 4. Move to the bullpen? Sure. Close? Sure. He made the All-Star team, and then took the role of designated survivor, never entering the game. Sure. Off the roster for the playoffs? Sure. Start Game 1 of the WS? Sure.
   3. karlmagnus Posted: January 19, 2017 at 10:04 AM (#5385863)
We can solve the DH problem and get rid of Moreland by bringing Manny back from Japan mid-season. Bet he'd still hit better than Moreland, and it would raise his HoF chances since it would delay his last year from 2026 until 2032, by which time the PED hysteria will be long forgotten.

I wouldn't want him to field at 44, but great hitters are great hitters; in cricket Jack Hobbs had his greatest triumph at 44 and played another 8 years.
   4. jmurph Posted: January 19, 2017 at 03:04 PM (#5386173)
As happy as I am for the three very deserving inductees I’ll leave it to others to talk about them and I want to touch on a few memories of three of the Sox who were on the ballot this year and will not return next year;

Manny is still on the ballot, right? This literally just made my heartbeat speed up.

EDIT: Yes, confirmed for my own sanity. Fix it Jose, to prevent future heart attacks!
   5. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: January 19, 2017 at 03:08 PM (#5386181)
Sorry dude. Change from my first draft caused the mixup.
   6. jmurph Posted: January 19, 2017 at 03:11 PM (#5386184)
Ha, no worries. Well obviously yes I was actually worried and went scrambling for confirmation- I knew they made some changes to the eligibility rules, but thankfully they weren't that radical.
   7. Jose is El Absurd Pollo Posted: January 19, 2017 at 03:30 PM (#5386201)
The original version of this looked a bit different and I realized I was shoehorning someone in that wasn't as meaningful to me as Manny was.
   8. The Anthony Kennedy of BBTF (Scott) Posted: January 19, 2017 at 06:30 PM (#5386377)
If I go to a Tibetan temple right now, and spend two years mastering the knuckleball, I can go 84-79 in my MLB career.

Also, Tek lasted as long on the HoF ballot as Posada! I always knew 2002 me would be vindicated in my arguments that Tek was just as good!

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