Vote for Donnie!
Let me preface this rant by saying that I am extremely biased. I'm always a little biased, that's par for the course on this blog and a big reason to read it, but when it come to Donnie Baseball, the Hitman, the only #23 that ever matters, I'm beyond biased. That being said, Mattingly is getting the shaft from the Hall of Fame voters.
Based purely on numbers, should he be in? Let's take a look. I'll show you four sets of career stats, and you tell me which three are in the hall of fame, and why the fourth isn't. They all played in the same era, so there's no "dead ball" trickery going on.
Player 1 12 seasons, 1783 games, 1071 runs, 2304 hits, 414 2b, 207 hrs, 1085 rbi, .318 avg, .360 obp, .477 slg%., 0 MVPs
Player 2 20 seasons, 2856 games, 1632 runs, 3142 hits, 583 2b, 251 hrs, 1406 rbi, .285 avg, .342 obp, .430 slg%, 2 MVPs
Player 3 14 seasons, 1785 games, 1007 runs, 2153 hits, 442 2b, 222 hrs, 1099 rbi, .307 avg, .358 obp, .471 slg%, 1 MVP
Player 4 16 seasons, 2164 games, 1318 runs, 2386 hits, 403 2b, 282 hrs, 1061 rbi, .285 avg, .344 obp, .452 slg%, 1 MVP
Give up? The answer is that player number 3 is not in the hall of fame, the other three are. Player 1 is Kirby Puckett, 2 is Robin Yount, 3 is Don Mattingly and 4 is Ryne Sandberg. The main problem I have with the inclusion of these players, and the exclusion of Mattingly is that except for Puckett, the other three weren't even the best players on their own team during the height of their careers. Molitor was better than Yount, Andre Dawson was better than Sandberg. By the normal HOF standards, Kirby Puckett didn't play long enough, but he got special consideration because his career was cut short by an injury/illness. If that's the case, then Mattingly should get the same "extenuating circumstances" consideration. He lost as much time as Puckett due to a bad back.
Let's forget about the guys that are in the hall, and how Mattingly was a far superior player to them in his, and their, primes. And let's talk about this year's results. Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken were the only two to make the cut, and you can't really argue with either of them. What you can argue with is the players that garnered more votes than Mattingly's measly 54 votes (9.9% of the 75% needed for induction.) Included in this list are the following players: Steve Garvey, Dave Concepcion, Alan Trammell and Dave Parker. Are you kidding me?
Don Mattingly was arguably the best player in the game for a four-year stretch in the 80's. His 1985 MVP season was the most dominant offensive season of the decade, 35 hrs, 145 rbi, .324 avg, .371 obp .567 slg. If Mattingly isn't going to be inducted I think they should rename the Hall of Fame. How about calling it the Hall of Longevity. Or the Hall of Pretty Good Players Who Never Got In Trouble Or Mistreated Sports Writers And Reached Arbitrary Milestones. Don Mattingly was one of the top five players in the game, in his prime. He wasn't a flash in the pan, he had his career cut short by an injury. He belongs in the Hall of Fame. Mark McGwire is another debate, but I think he should be in there as well, for many of the same reasons.
The problem with Hall of Fame voting is that sports writers are among the most ineffectual, spiteful human beings on the face of the Earth and they yield their Hall of Fame votes as the ultimate leverage and pay back to any athletes they didn't like on a personal level. The integrity of the Hall is an excuse these guys use to cast their ballots for personal reasons.
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