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Friday, January 07, 2005

Sutter Yourself, But My Vote Goes To Goose 

Bruce Sutter received more Hall of Fame votes this time around than Goose Gossage did. Talk to anyone who was a baseball fan in the 1970s and early 1980s (like my dad, for example), and they will say that that very idea is ridiculous. The main case for Sutter that I've seen is that Sutter "invented," "developed," or "created" the split-finger fastball and thus deserves a spot in Cooperstown as an innovator.

Here are the "Sutter Split Finger" defenses I found, with just a quick search:

Phil Pepe
Buster Olney
Tracy Ringolsby
Craig Muder
Jayson Stark

And that's only what I found before my limited Bruce Sutter patience ran too thin to continue.

Long-time readers (and by "long-time" I mean "for little over a year") might remember my December 27 and 29, 2003 posts regarding the origin and development of the forkball and split-finger fastball. It turns out that both Elroy Face and Sandy Koufax were mowing down hitters in the 1960s with the pitch. Yeah, Sutter tweaked the forkball a bit and gave it a new name, but to use Sutter's Baseball Pioneer status as a key argument in his HOF candidacy, one must also hold Elroy Face in the same regard. Face even held the career saves record for a while, with 188.

Face is obviously out, and Sutter should be too. Gossage is in on the "Has your father told you multiple stories about this guy?" criteria.

If the BBWAA isn't careful, there's a good chance that by, say, 2025, the Baseball Hall of Fame will be better described as the Baseball Hall of Quite a Bit Better than Average. Who wants to take their kids to see that?

The main reason to back Sutter for the Hall is his dominance as a closer over an eight(+/-) year period. I loved watching him - he had to throw one strike to each batter, but would they know when it was coming? Usually not.

I believe there should be a special commitee set up to evaluate HOF standards for closers. The BBWAA can't be trusted - we'll end up with NY, CA, and post-season players way out of proportion with reality.
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