Wednesday, January 23, 2008
In my first post of the year (long overdue), I'm thrilled to be able to do something that I should have been able to do years ago and that is congratulate Rich "Goose" Gossage on his election to the hall of fame (long overdue). In a column last January about the Hall of Fame vote, I mentioned that I hoped that I would be able to write a congratulatory note to Goose this year and thankfully the voters finally got it right.
I've said it before, but I'll say it again, Goose was the best closer that I have ever seen; Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman not withstanding. Gossage now ranks 17th on the all time saves list as the modern closer has been reduced to a one inning pitcher. I would dare say that if Gossage had been used that way, he would be quite a bit higher on the list. He ranks third all time in saves of 2 or more innings. In the famous playoff game against the Red Sox in '78, he came into the game with one out in the seventh inning. Can you imagine a manager today asking his closer to get eight outs to end a game? I was actually watching that game and certainly don't remember thinking that I would have rather that Billy martin bring in the set up guy and save Gossage for the 9th inning. The game was on the line and Billy put in the best pitcher that he had in the bullpen.
Rich Gossage was named on 86% of the ballots this year which was an double digit increase from last year. I always wonder what the voters who just decided that they would vote for him this year were thinking in previous years. Did he somehow get better overnight? Did he go out and pitch a few more games? If he's a Hall of famer this year, then he was a hall of famer last year. There has always been a barrier to relievers getting into the hall, but I believe that now they have corrected one of their greatest injustices. There are now five pitchers who spent the majority of their careers as relievers who have been inducted into the hall of fame, Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers, Dennis Eckersley, Bruce Sutter and Goose. I'm assuming that Mariano and Hoffman will join them someday in the not too distant future.
So once again, I say congratulations, Goose. You've had to wait far too long. I'll always remember a summer day at the stadium when you came into a game in the 9th inning with the bases loaded and struck out the side on 11 pitches. Pure power pitching at it's best. Thanks for the memories and the saves. I hope you enjoy induction ceremony in Cooperstown this summer, even if is long overdue.