The votes are in and we know who is going to be inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame next summer. But here is the question all diehard Red Sox fans have: How did the Sox do?
The big Red Sox winner was David Ortiz who won't even be on the ballot until 2022. The fact that Edgar Martinez was elected and Harold Baines was chosen by the veterans committee makes Big Papi a shoe-in as soon as he's eligible. Martinez and Baines, like Ortiz, were primarily designated hitters. Their selection has removed the Hall of Fame stigma of being a DH. You can start making plans now for Papi's induction ceremony in July of 2022.
Then there is the fascinating case of former Red Sox pitcher Curt Schilling. He finished ahead of everyone who was not elected this year with 259 votes or 60.9 percent (319 votes, or 75 percent, was needed to gain entry). Schilling is a controversial character but there can be no doubting that he was a terrific big-game pitcher. His post-season record of 11 wins and only two losses is proof of that; and his famous "bloody sock" game in the 2004 ALCS against the Yankees has assured his place in baseball immortality if not in Cooperstown.
He has three more years of eligibility left but getting over the 75 percent hump will be a struggle because of his controversial right-wing political views. His inflammatory tweets have made him radioactive to a lot of people, but that shouldn't take away from the fact that he was a heckuva pitcher. Then, there is the matter of what team's cap he would wear on his Hall of Fame plaque. He won two World Series (2004 and 2007) while with the Red Sox, and he also won one with the Arizona Diamondbacks (2001); but he spent the bulk of his career waith the Philadelphia Phillies. Knowing Schilling, if it were up to him he'd probably choose a ''Make America Great Again'' cap.
Finishing just behind Schilling with 253 votes was another old Red Sox pitcher, Roger Clemens. He was a Hall of Fame caliber pitcher before steroids were on anyone's radar, but he is lumped together with Barry Bonds as an assumed user. Both would be in Cooperstown if steroids had never been invented, but both will have a devil of a time getting past the 75 percent barrier in the few years they have left on the ballot.
In 11th place with just 97 votes, or only 22.8 percent, was our favorite man-child, Manny Ramirez. Manny was caught, not once but twice, violating baseball's drug policy. It brought his career to an ignominious halt, not exactly the way you want to make your exit. The violations occurred after he left the Red Sox but they left people wondering what he might have been sprinkling on his Wheaties when he was living at the Ritz-Carlton. Manny has Hall of Fame worthy statistics, 555 home runs, 1,831 runs batted in, and an average of .312, but he also has those two violations on his rap sheet and not much hope of getting into Cooperstown without buying a ticket.
Two other old Red Sox players were on the ballot for the first -- and last -- time. Kevin Youkilis and Derek Lowe were both very good players but both went for the horse collar with no votes. Candidates need at least 5 percent to remain on the ballot so it's over and out for Youk and Lowe. Both, however, have the consolation of being members in good standing of the Red Sox Hall of Fame.
A word about the man who became the first to be elected unanimously this year, Mariano Rivera. He was the center of attention in a great Fenway Park moment some years ago. I'm not referring to the game-tying hit he gave up in the fourth game of the 2004 ALCS, the one that launched the Red Sox on their historic come-back from an 0-3 deficit to victory and the first World Series championship they'd won in 86 years. No, I mean what happened the following opening day at Fenway Park. The Yankees were the Red Sox opponents that day, and, as is traditional in opening day ceremonies, every player on both teams was introduced. When Rivera's name was called and he emerged from the dugout, the sold-out crowd, remembering that it was the great Rivera who had given up that game-tying hit the previous October, let out a huge mock cheer. He didn't just take it in stride, he seized the moment; grinning broadly, he took off his cap and waved it merrily at the crowd. Suddenly, almost magically, the mock cheer morphed into one of respect and admiration. It was extraordinary. From that day forward, he was a Fenway Park favorite; still feared because he was so good, but always admired.
His sterling reputation led me to pen a piece of doggerel which, if you've read this far, I'll now foist upon you.
I have to admit that I get the crankies
When somebody mentions the damn New York Yankees.
I just do not like them; it's one of my gripes.
They strut around wearing their fancy pin-stripes.
There is one exception, someone I don't blame;
A prince of a fellow, Rivera's his name.
He's a wonderful guy, the finest you'll meet.
He helps poor old ladies while crossing the street.
You can't help but like him, although he's a foe.
He's top notch, a class act, he's Mariano.
In closing out ballgames, well, its understood,
He's the best of all time. The guy is that good.
Were he not a Yankee he'd rate an A plus.
Good luck, Mariano, but not against us.
Dick Flavin is a New York Times bestselling author; the Boston Red Sox “Poet Laureate” and The Pilot’s recently minted Sports’ columnist.
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