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— Where Thinking Red Sox Fans Obsess about the Sox

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Sox Therapy Looks at the Hall of Fame Ballot

With the recent announcement of the official 2019 Hall of Fame ballot I am reminded of just how devalued I personally find the Hall of Fame and related discussions.  All too often it comes down to people shouting past each other about WAR calculations or what “Fame” means in the context of the Hall and that is not even getting into the varying viewpoints on PEDs and other questionable behaviors.  At this point it is more fun for me to see the names popping up on the list and remembering some of their accomplishments.  This is naturally all the more true when it comes to players who have a history with the Boston Red Sox.  This year’s ballot has no shortage of players with Red Sox connections big and small; Billy Wagner, Darren Oliver, Roger Clemens, Manny Ramirez…they kind of cover it all.  I want to just look back briefly at three of these guys however;

Kevin Youkilis - Let’s start with this, I freakin’ loved Kevin Youkilis.  I don’t know how to write it down but there was a leather-lunged fan at spring training every year who would make this engine revving sound that he would punctuate with a “YOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUKKKKK” every time Youk came to bat.  The thing about Youk that I’ll remember most though is the way he bettered himself.  This was a guy who came up as a third baseman with minimal power and iffy defense who turned himself into agenuine slugging first baseman with an above average glove.  With all due respect to Dustin Pedroia for me it was Youk who should have been the 2008 Most Valuable Player.  With Mike Lowell battling injuries the ability of manager Terry Francona to move Youkilis between 1st and 3rd base more than made up for Pedroia’s slight statistical edge.

Jason Bay - Bay came and went seemingly in a blur and seems long forgotten but he really did a great job.  To say he arrived in difficult circumstances having to replace the controversial but talented Manny Ramriez is an understatement.  He produced right from the get go though.  In his first game he tripled in the 12th inning and scored the winning run then the next night mashed a three run first inning home run to help trigger a rout of the Oakland A’s.  One of my favorite moments of his actually came in a loss.  With the Sox a half game behind Tampa he belted a two out, two run homer against the Rays to give the Sox a 4-3 lead in the 8th in a September game.  Fenway absolutely erupted and Bay was rewarded with a rare Fenway Park curtain call. Sadly the Sox couldn’t hold the lead but that moment was memorable.  Bay continued his hot hitting into October that year posting an 1.105 OPS in the post-season that saw the Sox come painfully short in the LCS.  Bay was a bright spot again in 2009 scoring and driving in over 100 runs and finishing 7th in the AL MVP voting. 

Derek Lowe - “Enigmatic” would seem to be the appropriate word for Derek Lowe.  He went through stretches of total dominance in the bullpen, he was a beast in the 1998 ALDS against Cleveland, and he went through stretches where he made the worst of Bob Stanley and Heathcliff Slocumb look appealing.  He led the league in saves in 2000 then in 2002 finished second in the league in ERA as a starter.  In 2004 he was a complete disaster…until he wasn’t and oh my did he pick the right time not to be.  What I will always remember about Lowe is that for a guy who was often criticized as a “mental midget” (remember the “Derek Lowe Face” comments?) this was a guy who sparkled when the lights were brightest.  With the Sox he had a 3.05 ERA in the post-season, he had those memorable outings against Anaheim, New York and St. Louis in 2004 and don’t sleep on that sparkling save in game five of the 2003 ALDS when he got two called strikeouts with the tying run at third base in the ninth to secure the Sox dramatic comeback in the series.

Will these guys make the Hall of Fame?  Almost certainly not.  But for me it is enough to have an opportunity to remember them.  They brought me great joy (and on occasion some irritation) and I like being able to remember them.

Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: November 21, 2018 at 10:07 AM | 5 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. villageidiom Posted: November 21, 2018 at 08:35 PM (#5790254)
I don't know the answer, but I wonder who are the pitchers who have, at some point in their careers, led the league in saves AND thrown a no-hitter. Lowe, Eck, Righetti... Is that it?
   2. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: November 21, 2018 at 09:07 PM (#5790260)
Probably a few guys like Grove or Young did it in one of those years where three saves led the league.

Did Smoltz ever throwma no hitter?
   3. vortex of dissipation Posted: November 21, 2018 at 09:14 PM (#5790263)
Yes, both Grove and Young did do it, as did Mathewson.

Smoltz took one no-no into the ninth, but never threw one.
   4. bobm Posted: November 21, 2018 at 09:40 PM (#5790271)
Lowe, Eck, Righetti... Is that it?

Yes, since 1969.

Before 1969, per BR PI:

Bender, Walsh, Sad Sam Jones, Hubbell, Clyde Shoun, Dave Davenport, George Mullin, Cy Young.
   5. The Run Fairy Posted: November 22, 2018 at 12:47 AM (#5790301)
I'm stunned that Hoyt Wilhelm isn't on that list, but his best years were only 2nd in saves.

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