Tommy John belongs in the Hall of Fame as a member, not a special guest with his surgeon

26 07 2013

Tommy John, photo linked from mlbreports.com

The Hall of Fame is recognizing Tommy John’s undeniable fame Saturday, but not by inducting him as a member. What could more clearly illustrate how farcical Hall of Fame selection has become?

John will be honored with the surgeon who pioneered Tommy John surgery, Dr. Frank Jobe. That’s fine, and certainly Jobe deserves to be honored by the Hall of Fame. But, as I’ve noted here before, Tommy John deserves to be a full-fledged Hall of Famer based on his pitching career but especially based on his role as the trailblazer who showed about 50 other pitchers the way back from an injury that used to end careers. It’s called Tommy John surgery, for crying out loud!

But let’s set aside the surgery for a while. Tommy John is a clear Hall of Famer based on his credentials, however you examine the record:

With the exception of Roger Clemens, who’s being kept out of Cooperstown because of allegations about performance-enhancing drugs, every eligible pitcher who played in the 20th Century with as many wins as Tommy John is in the Hall of Fame (and more than 30 pitchers with fewer wins than John are in the Hall of Fame). Read the rest of this entry »

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Mariano Rivera — incomparable in all sports

4 07 2013

I’ve been pleased to see Mariano Rivera pitch twice (and nail down the save both times) in his farewell season.

He gave up one hit in the ninth to the Twins last night, putting the tying run on base in a 3-2 game. But that just set him up against the Twins’ best hitter, Joe Mauer, with two outs. Mo got him to pop up weakly for the final out.

When Rivera became the all-time career saves leader in 2011, I wrote about how unique he was in baseball history.

Even then he stood so far above every other reliever that I compared him to Babe Ruth, Rickey Henderson and Nolan Ryan as baseball players whose achievements were so far above everyone else that they stood alone.

With his amazing comeback this year from major surgery at age 43, Rivera is making himself unique in team sports history. As ESPN’s Jason Stark noted earlier this year, no one in team sports history has had as dominant a season like Rivera is having at this age. Read the rest of this entry »