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Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Edgar Martinez And Mike Mussina Are Headed To Cooperstown

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In sports like basketball and football, the most heated debates have raged over who the GOAT is. In baseball, it’s the Hall of Fame. For whatever reason, the baseball Hall of Fame is taken the most seriously, debated the most heavily, and considered the most prestigious. For years, the Hall of Fame debates have been centered around PED use. This year has been a breath of fresh air without that stuff. Sure, we’re still talking about the Hall of Fame cases of Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds, but we knew they weren’t getting in this year.

This class is different. You’ve got the greatest closer of all-time, the second greatest DH of all-time, and two of the greatest starting pitchers in history. One boasting two Cy Young awards, and the other carrying a top 10 winning percentage since 1900. I looked at the 2017 Hall of Fame class as pivotal, because you had two players in Pudge Rodriguez and Jeff Bagwell who gained entry to Cooperstown despite suspicions of PED use. If you let PED guys into the Hall, then that breaks down the barrier for guys like Bonds and Clemens to get in somewhere down the line, although their voting percentages didn’t make that much of a leap, gaining roughly 2-3% each.

As it pertains to breaking down barriers, we finally have a unanimous Hall of Famer and his name is Mariano Rivera. Should he have been the first? No, of course not. But should he have been unanimous? Uh, yeah. Most definitely. He’s the greatest relief pitcher who ever lived. Most baseball fans could rattle off several names who deserved to be unanimous Hall of Famers — Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, and Ken Griffey Jr. most recently. You get the picture. Rivera shouldn’t have been the first, but I’m glad anybody is the first. The idea that nobody could be voted in unanimously just because others who deserved the distinction in the past were denied the honor is the dumbest argument of all-time. They got it wrong in the past. That’s not an excuse to keep getting it wrong in the future. This one, they finally got right. Congrats to Mo, the GOAT.

It’s a damn shame that the voters made Edgar Martinez wait so long. I won’t bore you with the numbers, but all you need to know is that they named the friggin’ award for the best DH in the league every year after him. It’s embarrassing that he had to wait the full ten years before he got the call from Cooperstown. But now that he’s in, this opens the door for other Hall of Fame worthy designated hitters. You know, since the voters had previously failed to recognize that this is, in fact, a position and has been for 46 years. Edgar got on base at a ridiculous .418 clip for his entire career, and stroked his way to two batting titles, five Silver Slugger awards and seven All Star games. This one was a no-brainer, and it’s a joke that it took a decade to get it right.

I’ll always have fond memories of Roy Halladay. You know, when you grow up watching baseball, you hate all the great players on the opposing teams because they’re always preventing your favorite team from winning. Halladay was the first player that I didn’t feel that way about. My dad and I used to pick our trips to Fenway around Halladay starts when the Blue Jays were in town because we just loved watching that man pitch. I mean, this goes without saying, but we’ll never see another guy like Doc Halladay again. At least, not the way the game is trending now. Halladay led the league in complete games SEVEN times. In today’s game, it’s a big deal if a starter throws a complete game just once. He threw 67 of them, 20 of which were shutouts, won two Cy Young awards with two different teams, and led the league in innings four times. It’s both sad and tragic that he’s not here to enjoy this day, but his memory will live on forever in Cooperstown.

I’m actually excited about the Mike Mussina induction and I’ll tell ya why. Mussina is one of the first guys I can recall who kind of defied the whole Hall of Fame eyeball test. At the risk of upsetting the Mussina diehards, he was never really dominant. Never led the league in ERA, never led the league in strikeouts, never led the league in WHIP, never won a Cy Young award, only had a sub-three ERA once over a full season. But then you dig a little bit deeper and you start to see why this man belongs in Cooperstown. He threw at least 200 innings ELEVEN times, finished sixth place or higher for the Cy Young award NINE times, and per baseball-reference, there’s only one pitcher who ranks higher than him in strikeouts (2,813) and wins above replacement (83.0) who isn’t a Hall of Famer. That pitcher is Roger Clemens. Also, of all the players on the 2019 Hall of Fame ballot, only Bonds and Clemens had a higher WAR than Mussina. Old timers be damned. Mussina belongs.

Congratulations to the Hall of Fame Class of 2019, probably the least painful class to vote for in quite some time. Next year, we’ll be talking about Derek Jeter potentially becoming the second unanimous Hall of Famer, is this finally the year for Curt Schilling now that Mussina is in, and will Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens make a significant leap or continue to inch towards the required 75% voting percentage? We shall see.