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Monday, January 3, 2011


Found this lovely gem online. (Courtesy: EdgarsMom1@hotmail.com)

   Alexander Cartwright?  Abner Doubleday?  Al Gore?  Who invented baseball?  The answer is debated in various baseball circles.  From the PhD historians to Joe Paycheck, everyone has an opinion and a reason as to why they believe what they believe.  And while "who invented baseball" may not be the single-most hotly debated topic of our beloved game, it's worth noting that not everyone agrees on one answer.
   Part of what makes the off-season so much fun is the shift to "armchair GM-ing" as we watch teams make trades, release players, tender contracts, consider arbitration-eligible players...etc. "Rangers should've re-signed Vlad", "Yankees should've gone after Greinke", "Nationals made a huge mistake signing Werth to a deal like that", and all sorts of other second-guessing & debates pop up this time of year among hardcore baseball fans.  Add to that the fact that we're in the midst of this year's HOF voting, and baseball-related debates are a-plenty right now.

   Which brings me to my point...

   I'm a National League baseball kind of guy.  Perhaps it's because I was born & raised in a National League city (living a few years in a dual-league city), perhaps because I lean towards the 'purist/traditionalist' side of many things baseball, or perhaps it's because I'm a "follow the rules" kind of guy.  Maybe it's my love for the game within the game--the little nuances & strategic moves that a manger makes that leaves the casual fan scratching their head in a confounded fog.
   Whatever the reason, I prefer NL-style ball, and believe it to be superior.  Some people would argue that AL-style ball is better.  This is another debate that has lasted nearly 40 years since the "experiment" started in 1973.  One thing that is not debatable is the first rule in the official rules of MLB.  Page one, section one, line one, rule one--the VERY FIRST thing stated in the rules immediately dismisses the DH as a position.

1.01 Baseball is a game between two teams of nine players each, under direction of a manager, played on an enclosed field in accordance with these rules, under jurisdiction of one or more umpires.

  For this reason, Edgar Martinez does not belong in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.  There is no arguing that his feats at the plate are impressive.  I understand that his career numbers of 300HR, 5002B, .300+BA, .400+OBP, and .500+SLG are only rare enough that they're shared by only Williams, Ruth, Gehrig, Musial, Hornsby, Manny, & Helton--impressive company, no doubt.  The difference is that the latter group played as "one of nine".
   Martinez played all 18 seasons of his career with Seattle.  But, only two of those seasons did he not DH in some capacity or another.  When you scroll down on his baseball-reference page, the "standard fielding" section looks like swiss cheese.  He accomplished many great things, don't get me wrong.  But if he'd have taken the field for 18 seasons (like all the other players in the aforementioned group), and played defense like you're supposed to, he'd be a no-doubter to get in.  The fact is: he didn't...so, he shouldn't.  How many HR would Bonds have hit if he didn't have to take his knees into the outfield every night (PEDs aside)?  How can you even compare Martinez to a class of players who played in an era when DH wasn't even an option?  Mantle had bad legs, which forced him into retirement...what if he would've DH'ed for another 7 or 8 years?  I just don't think it's right to let a guy who didn't even bring his glove to the stadium into the HOF, no matter what his name is, or how much he accomplished.

1 comment:

  1. Great points -- especially citing the rule book! If I was in charge of the Hall of Fame, I would have much stricter standards. (Not everyone in it now would even qualify.) And, as such, I don't believe Martinez qualifies at all. Nor Tino Martinez for that matter, who I also read was on the ballot this year! (Sorry to bring up a painful name from the Cardinals past.)