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Mariano Rivera Being The First Unanimous HOF Inductee Is Weak AF

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This was what was hot in the internet streets for me last night.  I was pissed mildly annoyed when I saw Mariano Rivera was announced as the first unanimous HOF inductee ever.  I gave my reasons, some people agreed, some people disagreed.

In the end, I think we can all agree that the HOF selection process is a joke in and of itself, but that will be addressed later.

Now let me preface this by saying Mo was statistically the best closer ever.  I can’t and won’t argue there.  But here’s why I was slightly perturbed that he was the very first player in baseball history to be unanimously inducted into Cooperstown.

Now should Mo have been a unanimous selection?  You could argue that.  But is it weak that he, a reliever, is the first unanimous player in the history of the game?  I think it’s weak as fuck.

And that’s why I was annoyed.  So here are my arguments:

1. He was a reliever

And not by choice, it was because he wasn’t hacking it as a starter.  Now obviously this turned out just fine for both Mo and the Yankees, but if things went according to plan at the time, Mo would have been in the rotation.  Instead he pitched an inning at a time, 2-3x a week.

I’m going to guess he didn’t have any complementary pitches in his arsenal to his cutter, which was why he didn’t succeed as a starter.  But fortunately for relief pitchers, you really only need two pitches, so long as both are at least considered plus pitches, or in Mo’s case one double plus pitch, his aforementioned cutter.  But if he were to have been a starter with just one pitch, his K rate would have dropped, his WHIP spiked, and we wouldn’t even be talking about him being a HOF’er, let alone a unanimous selection.  Relievers are obviously important, but they’re less important than most positions on the field.  It’s easier to string together 3 consecutive outs than shut down a lineup for 20 outs like Roger Clemens did, steroids be damned.

I don’t have proof of this but I’d guess if Chris Sale, Clemens, Pedro or a lot of other pitchers were to be the closer of Mariano Rivera’s Yankees’ teams… they would have been every bit as good as he was.

2. Other Players Deserved to be “First” More

Now this is more a case of “Hall of Fame voters are assholes” than “Mo shouldn’t have been unanimous”.  But I’m a fan of stare decesis.  Of past precedent.  If some of baseball’s greats weren’t unanimous, should a fucking reliever be?  For sure not.

Then on the flip side, this could have just been a case of timing more than anything.  Maybe the 3 dickheads who didn’t vote for Jr. died off and voters are finally realizing that they’ve been complete and total assholes as a whole for like 80 years or whatever and Mo just happened to be the first beneficiary of these

Here are Babe Ruth’s stats from the 1921 season:

.378/.512/.846 slash line with a 1.359 OPS, 59 HRs and 145 RBIs

59 home runs.  Which was more than 8 TEAM TOTALS that year

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Babe Ruth was hitting more home runs than half the teams in the league in his time.  For reference, in 2001 the Tampa Bay Rays hit 120 home runs, about 60 more than Bonds did in his record breaking season.

And not only that… he had 94 career wins on the mound and a 2.28 career ERA.

But guess what?  He wasn’t a unanimous selection

And we haven’t even talked about Ted Williams, Willie Mays, Sandy Koufax, Griffey Jr., Christy Mathewson, Greg Maddux or a dozen other players who were slam dunk, no brainer Hall of Famers who didn’t get 100% of the vote.  If these guys would have gotten 100% of the vote, I wouldn’t have batted an eye at Mo getting 100%.  But they didn’t, so I do.

This is where it gets kinda hairy though.  Is Mo a slam dunk Hall of Famer?  Absolutely.  Should he pay for past voters sins?  Well, I kinda think he in particular should, again, because he’s a reliever.  If someone is going to be the first unanimous player ever selected I just think it’s so. fucking. weak. that it was a reliever, as good as that reliever may have been.  Save it for someone like… Mike Trout 20 years from now.

3.  Mo Was a System Closer

Simple.  Mo was on a few historically good Yankees teams.  The lineups and rotations of those teams were the QBs that drove them down the field, and Mo was the goal line RB that punched it in the end zone from the one yard line.  This isn’t his problem, but if he were on any other team in baseball over his career, his stats wouldn’t have been near the same.  If you were to take Mike Trout and put him on the White Sox, the Reds, the Padres or any other shit team in baseball, he’d still be putting up MVP numbers year after year.  Mo wouldn’t have had the chance to pile up save after save if he spent his entire career on a dog shit team.  That’s inarguable.

Take all of this how you will.  All it really boils down to is #2 in the end, though.  That the Hall of Fame voting is a complete and total JOKE.  A lot of people nailed their ballots, but the holier than thou assholes who think having a vote is a deified right and a lot of times, they fuck it up, and they’ve done this since the first Hall of Fame vote ever.  If the voting process wasn’t such a joke, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.  But it is, so we are.

In the end, it’s whatever.  I don’t *really* give a shit that Mo was unanimous, but again, I just think that the first unanimous selection ever being a reliever is just flat out weak.  It had to happen eventually, and I wish it would have started with Mike Trout 25 years from now or whatever.

Which brings me to my last point.  There are arguments for and against Mo being unanimous.  I think all level headed people could objectively agree with that.  But if Mike Trout doesn’t get 100% of the vote, it means Mo getting it was a complete and total joke.  That can’t be argued with.  Same for Kershaw and maybe eventually Mookie Betts, Votto (?) and Eloy Jimenez too.  So long as least Trout follows suit, fine, if not, we riot.

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