I don’t mind contrarians. Hell, I am one. But Bill Price at the New York Daily News has just taken things a bit too far, then stopped, took a look around, took a couple more steps, and then sprinted out of sight and into the horizon.
In his running column entitled “The Bitter Bill” (get it?), he wrote about the retirement of Jeff Kent – more specifically, his candidacy for the Hall of Fame.
Let me say first that I can deal with people who argue that Kent’s not a Hall of Famer. I’ll disagree with them and not-so-secretly judge them if they ever do make the claim, but I can live with it.
But for the love of Catfish, please show me that you have an ounce of understanding about baseball before you put your argument in print:
But I say Kent cannot be looked at as a second baseman, especially in this day and age where middle infielders all over baseball are putting up numbers usually posted by outfielders and third baseman.
Wait. I know we just started, but wait. So Kent wasn’t a second baseman? Then what the hell do you call that guy who stands near second base on the right half of the diamond? Because that’s where Kent used to stand around fielding grounders and stuff. And someone should also tell Price that first basemen can hit too. And there’s really no comparison between the numbers that they put up and those that middle infielders do. Check it out. You might learn something.
We have to start judging players – other than catchers – as all part of the same pool.
By this logic, we can put Ryan Howard at shortstop. You’ll hardly notice the difference, Phillies fans!
Is Nomar Garciaparra a Hall of Famer because he put up big numbers at shortstop?
No. No one who understands that a player has to play to be in the Hall of Fame has said that Nomar is a Hall of Famer.
Kent was never a great fielder. He had to hide somewhere and most teams chose to put him at second base.
This is precisely the moment when my mind exploded. You can hide someone by putting them at second base? Are you sure you meant to write this? Who in their right mind can give this man a job as a sportswriter? How are you more successful at your job than I am at mine?
Also, Kent played in the steroids era, so all of the numbers from that time have to be judged on some sort of scale. 600 homers may have to be the new 500 homers.
Yay! I love arbitrary numbers! So if 600 is the new 500, then that means that each homerun hit these days is worth .833 of one hit pre-steroids, right? Which gives Kent (in pre-steroid value)… 314 homeruns… Which is still the most ever hit by a ‘guy who stands between first and second base’. By 32 homeruns. You should really think before you write, Bill. Or did you mean 700 is the new 500? Maybe 721?
And while Kent’s numbers may have gotten him into the Hall of Fame 10 years ago, they are comparable to several other players who will be retiring soon or have already retired and likely won’t ever get in.
(Mind racing. Trying to think of other middle infielders whose careers can compare to Kent’s…)
Albert Belle has more homers (381) than Kent. Is he a Hall of Famer?
Gary Sheffield has more homers (499), hits (2,615) and RBIs (1,633) than Kent. Is he a Hall of Famer?
Clearly, I’ve wasted my time even thinking.
Andres Gallarraga (399), Dale Murphy (398), Joe Carter (396), Jason Giambi (396), Vlad Guerrero (392), Graig Nettles (390), Dwight Evans (385), Harold Baines (384), Larry Walker (383) and Matt Williams (378) all have more homers than Kent.
But… They’re not second basem…
Plus, in the next few years, plenty of guys with over 450 HRs will start to retire. Just how many players will the writers put in each year?
Has this guy ever seen a game of baseball? I mean, he does know that Home Run Derbies are just once a year right? And that in real games, things like “hits”, “doubles” and “walks” count too?
It should be interesting. I just want to know if Kent will go in as a Met if he makes it.
I’ll let you know, Bill. I’ll be sure to let you know. So for now, rest easy and not pay attention to sports again for a while.Because clearly, you’ve gotten away with it so far.
NOTE: Ken, dak and Junior… Please don’t sue me for this post. And come back.
NOTE PART DEUX: Hat tip to Rob Neyer for the article.