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Ichiro is Hall of Fame eligible (and a digression about Pete Rose)

Apr 7, 2010, 12:15 PM EDT

Thumbnail image for ichiro_090906.jpgStuff you don’t think about very much: you have to have played in the majors for ten years to be eligible for the Hall of Fame. Doesn’t come up too often of course because it’s hard to imagine a nine-year career that would be worthy of discussion. I mean, sure, Lynn Jones may have his supporters, but it was always a stretch that he was going to be inducted. Freakin’ politics.

An exception to this rule? Ichiro, who has seemed like he’s been around forever, but only has nine full seasons under his belt. Monday marked the beginning of his tenth, and by the rules of the Hall of Fame, he is now eligible.  Rules that, were he hit by a bus over the winter, probably would have been changed because as people don’t often realize, one woman and a small handful of people who know the value of good politics can simply change those rules if the mood strikes.* Thankfully that didn’t have to happen, of course.

And yes, Ichiro is a Hall of Famer. Perhaps he’s a bit overrated, but being overrated doesn’t mean that you’re not still pretty spectacular. It simply means that people overstate your contributions on occasion. Ichiro is pretty spectacular. And he’s famous. And though he wasn’t the first Japanese player in Major League Baseball history, as a position player he’s still something of a groundbreaker. Even if you totally discount what he did in NPB — which you should not — he still makes the Hall of Fame in my book and I would hope everyone else’s. Once you include his NPB accomplishments he’s a first ballot guy.

But the point is now he can get hit by a bus if he wants to, because he’s totally good to go.

*This is always what has bugged me about the Pete Rose thing. The reason he’s not in the Hall of Fame is not because he’s banned from baseball. The reason is that the Hall of Fame board has a rule that says if you’re banned from baseball you can’t be in the Hall of Fame. The board could, if it wanted, change the rule, decouple itself from baseball’s ban list and induct Rose and Joe Jackson and whoever the hell it wanted to if it decided it wanted to be a museum of history instead of a political institution.

It won’t because Bud Selig and Bob DuPuy and other baseball officials are on that board, but they could just do some Kabuki-theater abstention thing, let the board let Rose in and still be able to say that they’re keeping the game safe from the gamblers.

And for the record, I’d still keep Rose banned because I don’t think he should be near the competition of baseball games. But I do think that his historical contributions to the game should be reflected in the museum of record for Major League Baseball.

  1. BC - Apr 7, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    Lynn Jones? Hell, why not Ruppert Jones??!?

  2. Dave - Apr 7, 2010 at 12:34 PM

    Pete Rose’s records and accomplishments are part of the Hall of Fame. He just hasn’t been honored with enshrinement and a plaque. In this case, the HOF gets to be both a museum and a political institution

  3. Megary - Apr 7, 2010 at 12:40 PM

    Craig, I hate when I agree with you so completely.
    I’d much rather find fault with your argument and be snarky. Maybe next post.

  4. tadthebad - Apr 7, 2010 at 12:56 PM

    For a second, I thought you were referencing Nancy Pelosi.

  5. Church of the Perpetually Outraged - Apr 7, 2010 at 12:57 PM

    I was just going to ask this as I missed my chance to see the HoF the only time I was in Cooperstown. So they have all these mentions of Rose (I assume some memorabilia is there recognizing his hit record) but no plaque? Or is Rose’s name barred completely? What about information regarding the Black Sox? Is it like that World Series never happened?

  6. eddo - Apr 7, 2010 at 12:59 PM

    Pujols is eligible now, as well. I’d say he’s a hall of famer already.

  7. mgflolox - Apr 7, 2010 at 1:06 PM

    You ever notice how famous Pete Rose is for not being in the HOF? I mean, it’s kinda the same thing with s Joe Jackson. Tris Speaker was a better player than Joe and he is in the Hall, but how many more people know more about Shoeless Joe than Spoke? I think if Charley Hustle ever does become enshrined, he will become less famous (infamous?) than he is now.

  8. Charles Gates - Apr 7, 2010 at 1:08 PM

    The possible referece of Sarah Palin, sarcastic or otherwise, gave me quite the scare.

  9. Mike Treder - Apr 7, 2010 at 1:39 PM

    Re Ichiro and the HoF –
    PRO: Lifetime batting average .333; great base stealer; excellent defensive outfielder.
    CON: Mostly just a singles hitter; not many extra bases; rarely draws walks; relatively short career due to many years playing in Japan.
    I’m almost sure he will be elected and I think he probably should be, although it’s far from an automatic decision. On the basis of his hitting alone, I’d say he’s somewhat overrated, but when you add in his superb fielding and base running, that tips the balance for me.

  10. Levi Stahl - Apr 7, 2010 at 1:53 PM

    I had this same thought on Opening Day as Albert Pujols was announced: at that moment he became HOF-eligible. The last time I remember thinking that was when Mike Piazza started the first game of his tenth season.

  11. BC - Apr 7, 2010 at 2:07 PM

    Ichiro would go in the HOF if he retired now. 9 straight .300 seasons, 9 straight 200 hit seasons, about well over 300 SB, 9 straight Gold Gloves, 2 batting titles (and 8 out of 9 years in the Top 10). Plus one of the strongest arms I’ve ever seen. He has my vote – today.

  12. tadthebad - Apr 7, 2010 at 2:09 PM

    Ha! However, Palin is not in a position to change rules the way Ms. Pelosi is.

  13. Yank Fan Dave - Apr 7, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    Don’t forget the single-season hit record…

  14. Nick C - Apr 7, 2010 at 2:30 PM

    This does seem like a rare situation but as others have pointed out there are two players this year who would have been HOFers even without a 10th season. It is amazing to think that Ichiro and Pujols have the same (nearly) career average but that they go about it in such different ways. It really points out the weakness of using batting average to assess a player’s performance. Even factoring in defense, Pujols is good for roughly twice the production of Ichiro.

  15. willmose - Apr 7, 2010 at 3:03 PM

    Pete Rose is banned from baseball for life. When Pete is dead the ban is over and Pete can be elected to the HOF. Why Joe Jackson hasn’t been removed from the banned list is anybody’s guess. Joe’s been dead for a number of years. The odds are 11 to 1 against Pete getting into the hall while Bud is commissioner.

  16. Nick C - Apr 7, 2010 at 3:34 PM

    I would say that Selig will likely die before Rose due to their age difference but Selig reminds me of Mr. Burns from the Simpsons. He may just keep getting older and older and never actually kick the bucket.

  17. ditmars1929 - Apr 7, 2010 at 3:51 PM

    Church, I’m honestly curious and not trying to be a wise ass (seriously) – If you were in Cooperstown and did not visit the HOF, what the hell were you doing in Cooperstown?

  18. grammar cops - Apr 7, 2010 at 8:33 PM

    and *whomever the hell it wants. How quickly the former squire forgets his grammar.

  19. Great Mustache - Apr 7, 2010 at 11:58 PM

    Craig, Pete Rose was interviewed By Dan Barreiro on local radio here in MN today 4/7. You can find the interview here-
    Found it fairly interesting. You could actually hear the smoke spewing out of Pete’s orifices.

  20. Indygeo - May 5, 2010 at 9:25 AM

    I’m coming very late to this party, but let’s not forget that the Hall of Fame did NOT have a rule making players on baseball’s permanently banned list ineligible for voting/induction until 1991. The rule was enacted specifically to keep one man out. The Hall’s board were and are cowards.

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