Today, Rickey Henderson (94.8%) and Jim Rice (76.4%) were officially elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame. They'll get lifetime passes to a big special building in Cooperstown, NY and a handful of half-off coupons at the local Denny's. The ceremony this summer will be a real hot ticket, if only to hear Henderson shed his typical humility and finally engage in some self-congratulations, and to hear Rice curse out all the sportswriters who made him wait this consarned long.
Make no mistake about it, Rickey Henderson belongs here. There is perhaps no better example of a baseball player who bridges the gap between old-school scouting types who enjoyed his grit and determination and new-school sabermetric types who stand in awe of his patience at the plate and his run production ability. Rickey's the kind of baseball player you want to see your kid emulate. Get some dirt on your pants, hustle out a double, and be confident and brash enough to tell everyone that you are the best player that ever played.
As for Jim Rice, he's not half the player Henderson was, and probably not statistically special enough to be in the hall. That whole nonsense about being the most-feared player was just a bunch of poppycock and applesauce, invented by the Boston faithful and pushed by curly-haired idiots. Still, Jim Rice is famous, if only for his long, Susan Lucci-esque failure to win the big prize. (Also, he probably enjoys Lucci's oeuvre, having admitted to watching Young and the Restless) It's almost as if being barely not good enough for election to the Hall of Fame justified his election to the Hall of Fame. That's why I'm glad that Jim Rice is a HOFer, if only to promote my bizarre theories.
Shame on the BBWAA for continually missing the boat on guys who should be slam dunk votes, like Bert Blyleven (62.7%), Mark McGwire (21.9%) and Tim Raines (22.6%). Perhaps in the future, sportswriters will be replaced by self-aware baseball android writers, each equipped with the ability to make quantitative judgments as well as qualitative ones, and brown cyber-fedoras with the PRESS card firmly stuck in the band. Until that day, we've got to at least make the flesh-and-bone baseball writers as knowledgeable as Posnanski.
UPDATE: Two writers submitted blank ballots. Blank. No names written down. Not one.