Thursday, September 24, 2009

Jim Rice vs. Andre Dawson

Quin Hillyer of The American Spectator has an interesting article about media bias where it concerns sports.

Specifically, Hillyer is critical of sportswriters for bias towards professional athletes who play in "big markets." To make his case, Hillyer points towards how New England Patriots linebacker Andre Tippett got into the Pro Football Hall of Fame while Rickey Jackson of the New Orleans Saints has not. He also makes a case in baseball concerning Boston Red Sox slugger Jim Rice (who was inducted in Cooperstown in July) and Andre Dawson who played a significant part of his career with the Montreal Expos.

While I think Hillyer makes a convincing case for Dawson's inclusion in the Hall I'm not sure his exclusion has much to do with media bias.

While Dawson did play his first ten seasons with the Expos he also played six seasons with the Chicago Cubs. Dawson won his first and only NL MVP during his first season with the Cubs in 1987.

It isn't exactly the case Dawson was overlooked by the sportswriters when he played with the Expos. He did finish runner up in NL MVP voting in 1981 and 1983 (losing to Philadelphia Phillies slugger and future Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt and Dale Murphy of the Atlanta Braves, respectively.)

I think Dawson was hurt cause he stayed in the bigs too long. His last four seasons in the majors which he spent with the Red Sox (1993-94) and the Florida Marlins (1995-96) were less than productive. He would have better off retiring after his final season with the Cubs in 1992.

Hillyer argues that Rice should not have been inducted into the Hall before Dawson. But what Hillyer doesn't mention was that Rice was in his last year of eligibility to be inducted by the BBWAA while Dawson has eight more years of eligibility.

I also take issue with Hillyer when he writes:

Finally, by reputation at least, Dawson was a better teammate, gregarious and generous, while Rice was by reputation surly and perhaps selfish. It was passing strange that the Sox made so few playoff appearances during Rice's tenure, despite an abundance of talent; the word always was that its clubhouse was almost never a happy one. Last I checked, baseball remains a team game.

Rice was not popular with the sports media during his playing career in Boston. But then again neither was Ted Williams. In fact, his unpopularity was such that one sportswriter left off him the AL MVP ballot in 1947 despite winning the Triple Crown (leading the league in batting average, homeruns and RBIs.) So I'm not sure that's such a great argument.

Rice also played on two AL pennant winners in 1975 and 1986 and an AL East Division champion in 1988. His post-season stats might have been more impressive if he didn't miss the 1975 post-season with a wrist injury. Dawson, meanwhile, only made two post-season appearances in his 20 year big league career. He made those appearances with the 1981 Expos and the 1989 Cubs where he hit .186 in 59 post-season at bats.

But Hillyer is right. Andre Dawson does belong in the Baseball Hall of Fame. I suspect that the BBWAA will do the right thing and vote in Dawson (as well as Cincinnati Reds shortstop Barry Larkin who becomes Hall of Fame eligible) in January.

1 comment:

Charley said...

Right on! Andre does deserve to be there and shame on the HOF voters for making him wait. What is it with making players wait until there last remaining years of eligibility? If you're a HOF in the last year, than you're a HOF the first year. What's the difference?

Andre Dawson for the Hall of Fame