On Dec. 6, the CHB opined that a supposed steroid backlash among voters would help sweep Jim Ed Rice into the Hall of Fame: Yesterday, the announcement was handed down and, well, let’s just say the juice is on Dan.
Should Rice’s supporters be steamed? Dan seems to think so. What's disturbing, though, is that in attempting to explain why Rice is cooked, the CHB falls back on that old saw: his testy relationship with the media. (How ironic, now that Jim Ed is one of them. Even more ironic, Rice reportedly declined to speak to local reporters after the announcement.)
Wrote the CHB on Dec. 6: “It's too easy to say Rice isn't in the Hall because he was nasty to the writers.” Those who forget the past are condemned to reread it, I suppose, because Dan wrote essentially the exact same column today. More on his self-plagiarism in a moment.
For evidence Dan conducts the ultimate poll: two reporters, only one of whom is acknowledged to have a vote.
One is Bill Madden of the NY Daily News, who does not vote for Rice. The other, Bob Gillespie of The State, published in Rice’s home state of South Carolina, said: "Most people here say, 'He didn't get along with writers, so people are taking it out on him.' " Well that seals it. The Palmetto State is such a representative demographic, what with so many major league baseball teams down there. Good research, Dan.
Yet from this, the CHB extrapolates that "certainly the possibility exists that Rice's attitude is hurting him at the ballot box." He goes on to suggest that unlike other sour stars, Rice "falls significantly shy of being a no-brainer." From that, I extrapolate that Dan has never heard Rice on NESN.
Here’s where it gets interesting. In his piece today, Gillespie, The State reporter, also quotes –- who else? -– Shaughnessy and Madden. Was this a group project, boys?
Thankfully, instead of concentrating on Rice’s attitude, Gillespie gets at the heart of the matter: The writers he talked to (which included two other voters as well) said that Rice simply lacked Hall numbers.
Here’s wishing Dan would try looking at the statistical reasons why writers are turning up their noses at Rice. Like, perhaps, the strong case against his inclusion presented by Baseball Prospectus.
The rest is just a rehash of Dan’s Dec. 6 piece.
Then: "Rice was the dominant slugger of his time."
Now: "Rice was the American League's dominant hitter from 1975-86."
Then: "He is the only player in major league history with three consecutive seasons of 35 homers and 200 hits."
Now: "He's the only player in big league history with three straight seasons of 35 homers and 200 hits."
Then: "Of the 17 players (who've been on the ballot) boasting at least 350 homers and a .290 average, all are in Cooperstown -- except for Rice and Dick Allen."
Now: "Among 18 players who've been on the ballot with 350 homers and an average of .290, all are in the Hall except for Rice and Dick Allen." (Apparently baseball is played in December, because someone was added to the list; perhaps you could enlighten us, Dan?)
Then: "Other than Rice, the only retired players with at least 382 homers and a career average of .298 are Hank Aaron, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Mel Ott, Babe Ruth, and Ted Williams."
Now: "Rice is one of 10 players with at least 382 homers and an average of .298: The other nine -- Hank Aaron, Jimmie Foxx, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, Stan Musial, Mel Ott, Babe Ruth, and Ted Williams -- all are in the Hall of Fame."
Then: "Do not underestimate the steroids backlash. Voters dread the day they'll be asked to pass judgment on the Hall worthiness of artificially inflated sluggers who hit 500 home runs with help from illegal substances."
Now: “… and the residual stench from the steroid scandal figured to boost Rice's image. We know he was clean when he was hitting cleanup.”
Then: “Eddie Murray made Rice look like a combination of Winston Churchill and Kevin Millar. … [T]here may be voters who do not give Rice a vote because he was nasty.”
Now: “Is Rice coming up short because of his terrible relationship with baseball writers during the time he played? Is this petty payback for years of churlishness? Would Rice be in the Hall of Fame if he'd been as media-friendly as, say, Kevin Millar?”
This was the fifth column of Dan’s published in the Globe in the past week. At first, I was impressed with the volume, even if the content was wanting.
Upon further review, when work consists of cut-and-pastes from your past columns, it’s pretty Dan easy.