Tag Archives: Hall of Fame

Five Arguments For and Against the Existence of God and Their Equivalents Concerning Jamie Moyer as a Hall of Famer

jamie moyer and god

One thing that is true about the blogosphere, and one of its greatest things overall, is the fact that you can find a list for just about any topic.  This is the parlance of Listverse, which is honestly one of the best sites anywhere. This is why we here at Dubsism have a long history of comparing an incredible non-sports entry from Listverse and comparing it to something from the sporting world.

Another thing which is true about the blogosphere is that it is the express train from the sublime to the ridiculous. That brings us to our Jamie Moyer for the Hall of Fame campaign.  Now that the clock for Moyer’s eligibility for induction into Cooperstown is ticking, it is time for one of those comparisons so that you can decide where on that spectrum this campaign resides.

moyerometer 052812

As you contemplate what is likely the last Dubsism Moyer-o-Meter, peruse this list about arguments on the existence of God, and see how they really do compare favorably to the debate as Moyer as a Hall of Famer.

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The Last Word on the Jamie Moyer Update?

moyerometer 052812

For the first time since Ronald Reagan’s first term as president, spring training has opened without Jamie Moyer in somebody’s camp.

Every spring since 1984, Jamie Moyer was toeing the slab for a major or minor league squad.  But at age 50, this might finally be the end of the road. Last year at this time, Moyer was considered an important component of the Colorado Rockies starting rotation.  At first, Moyer pitched well in Denver; he became the oldest pitcher to post a major league win. Moyer posted a 2-5 mark with a 5.70 ERA in 10 starts before the Rockies designated him for assignment.

After Colorado, Moyer signed with the Baltimore Orioles, who assigned him to Triple-A Norfolk. The trouble came when after Moyer pitched well in the minors, it became clear the Orioles weren’t committed to calling up Moyer for their play-off run. steam),” said Moyer. That prompted Moyer to ask for his release, which the Orioles granted.

The next stop for the Moyer train was signing with the Toronto Blue Jays, who then assigned him to their Triple-A affiliate in Las Vegas. Things didn’t go so well in Las Vegas; in two starts Moyer got lit up for He allowed 17 hits, including three home runs, in 11 innings. His stint in Las Vegas ended with Moyer tallying one win, one loss, and an 8.18 ERA. This time, Moyer didn’t have to ask for his release.

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Ask The Geico Guy: Does Jerry Kramer Belong in the Hall of Fame?

Does a former drill sergeant make a terrible therapist? Of course he does.

Even if the name Jerry Kramer isn’t familiar, you’ve seen him if you’ve ever watched NFL Films. Kramer is the man who threw arguably the most famous block in NFL history.  Kramer’s block on Dallas Cowboys defensive tackle Jethro Pugh in the 1967 NFL Championship cleared the way for Packer quarterback Bart Starr to score the touchdown which sent the Packers to Super Bowl II.

The game known as the “Ice Bowl” is an iconic piece of NFL history, and the setup to Kramer’s game-winning block is timeless. The Packers were trailing 17-14 with only 4:50 remaining. The Packers had the ball on their own 32-yard line, and the weather conditions were less than favorable for such a clutch drive; after, there’s a reason they called this game the “Ice Bowl.” This is the game that put the term “frozen tundra of Lambeau Field” into the NFL lexicon and gave us the moment where 13 was the magic number…the temperature was 13 degrees below zero, there were 13 seconds left on the clock, the ball was little more than 13 inches from the Cowboys goal line, and the Packers had no timeouts.

Quarterback Bart Starr called a play in the huddle that called for fullback Chuck Murcien to carry the ball behind a double-team block on Pugh thrown by Kramer and Packer center Ken Bowman. Starr kept the ball after the snap as he felt he could get better footing on the icy field. Kramer definitely had footing as he drove Pugh backward; Kramer was the first Packer in the end zone. Starr was the second, and that score led to the Packers second Super Bowl championship.

However, that wasn’t Kramer’s biggest performance in a championship game. That would come in the 1962 Championship Game, played against the New York Giants in Yankee Stadium. Many people thought the conditions that day were even worse than those of the “Ice Bowl.” Broadcaster Art Rust, Jr. called the weather that day “barbaric. ” Temperatures were in the single digits and the winds were gusting over 40 miles per hour. During the games conditions were so adverse one cameraman suffered frostbite while others resorted to lighting fires in the baseball dugouts to thaw out their cameras. Even Kramer himself was awed by the circumstances (From NFL.com):

Jerry Kramer surveyed the surreal scene as quickly as he could with the Giants waiting for the snap and the sounds of 64,892 fans in Yankee Stadium muffled by the howling winds gusting up to 40 mph.

Kramer, the team’s right guard, was in his first year taking over place-kicking duties and all he could think about were ghosts of Yankees legends like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.

“‘What are you doing in the middle of a baseball field against the New York Giants trying to kick a field goal?’” Kramer recalled. “It was great pressure for me.”

Even before the game, Kramer knew it was going to be an epic struggle, especially considering Packer head coach Vince Lombardi had been an offensive coach for the Giants.

“It was the coach’s backyard and his first time back in the big city in a playoff game. We knew how much it meant to him. There was considerable pressure and we understood it was going to be a substantial battle.”

The Packers won that hard fought battle 16-7; the difference being three field goals, all kicked by Jerry Kramer.  But like a lot of lineman, Kramer just didn’t get the love that day.

Kramer got voted for the team game ball, which he still has, while the writers picked linebacker Ray Nitschke as the MVP (he got a Corvette in “a classic example of what a lineman’s life is like,” Kramer quipped).

The lack of love, at least as far as the Pro Football Hall of Fame is concerned, continues for Kramer. This is why we here at Dubsism are taking up the cause to get Kramer the enshrinement in Canton he earned. Take the following from the website Jerry Kramer for Pro Football Hall of Fame

Jerry Kramer played right guard for the Green Bay Packers from 1958-1968. During these years the Packers dominated the NFL, winning 5 Championships (6162656667) in 7 seasons and the first two Super Bowls (III).

The heart of Green Bay’s offense was the Power Sweep. To Coach Lombardi it epitomized team work, requiring “all 11 men to play as one”. But the role of the guards was key and there was none better than Kramer, “the perfect prototype of a right guard”.

Three times a Pro Bowler (626367), five times an All-Pro, Jerry was named to the 1960′s All Decade Team, the Super Bowl Silver Anniversary Team, and, most notably, the NFL’s 50th Anniversary All-Star Team. Incomprehensibly, he is the only member of that team NOT in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. “I cannot believe he is not yet in the Hall of Fame,” wrote legendary sportswriter Jim Murray, “Neither can anyone he ever blocked for.” Packer teammate and Hall of Fame running back Paul Hornung concurs. “When you think of Hall of Fame guards, very few come to mind. However, when I think of great guards, I think of Jerry Kramer.”

Merlin Olsen may have said it best, “Good Lord, he should be in the Hall.”

Jerry Kramer leads the way for Elijah Pitts in Super Bowl I

Steve Sabol of NFL Films once referred to Jerry Kramer as “the lead boulder in the avalanche that was the Packer Power Sweep.” NFL Films also produced a video which makes Kramer’s case to be in Canton. Bleacher Report says Kramer is the greatest player to ever wear the number 64.  Even Sports Illustrated’s Peter King gets the power of the petition.

“Want to see Jerry Kramer get one of the Seniors nods? That’s the tenor of what I read and hear on Twitter. There are nine Seniors Committee members, and five of them meet every year in late August in Canton to determine who will get the two nominations. The best advice I can give those with the passion for Kramer is to write passionately to the Hall about his candidacy. Your voices will be heard.”

Want your voice to be heard? Start by going to the Jerry Kramer for Pro Football Hall of Fame website. There you can access the full story on Jerry Kramer, follow their Twitter feed, like them on Facebook, and sign the petition to get Kramer inducted.

Not only that, but you can contact the Senior Selection committee. These are nine veteran members of the Selection Committee who can nominate two members each year. Since Kramer is no longer on the regular ballot, he must be nominated by the Senior Committee. These members are:

  • Dan Pompei, Chicago Tribune
  • Rick Gosselin, Dallas Morning News
  • John McClain, Houston Chronicle
  • Ron Borges, Boston Herald
  • Bernie Miklasz, St. Louis Post-Dispatch
  • John Czarnecki, FOXSports.com
  • Dave Goldberg, AOL Sports/Fanhouse
  • Ira Miller, The Sports Xchange
  • Len Shapiro, Miami Herald

It isn’t hard to find Twitter feeds or email addresses for all of these people. Like Peter King said, if you want Jerry Kramer in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it is time to let your voice be heard.

Your Jamie Moyer Update 4/25/2012 – There’s More Than One Road To Cooperstown

Seven days after becoming the oldest pitcher to win a game in major-league history, Jamie Moyer left last night’s game against the Pirates in line for the victory which would put him ahead of Hall-of-Famer Jim Palmer. But it was not to be. The Rockies’ bullpen couldn’t get Moyer’s six innings of one-run ball across the finish line, leaving Moyer with a No Decision, although he did add three more strikeouts to his career total.

But Moyer may not need career totals to get to Cooperstown. The Hall is already getting the soft-tossing Moyer’s cap and glove from the historic win last Tuesday night when he became the oldest pitcher in major league history to win a game.  Now,  Cooperstown will be getting the rest of him as well.

That is if he ever stops pitching.

Ironically, the pitcher who has been around so long his first strikeout victim was Abner Doubleday, Moyer told reporters following his historic win  “I kind of wish I was a baseball historian.” At this point, the Hall of Fame offered him a spot in the museum’s Steele Internship Program. The Hall’s 2012 class for the 10-week internship program features 15 students from across the country.

Jamie Moyer: Doctor of Baseball

Of course, Moyer actually would have to retire to become eligible for the internship, but as we here at Dubsism have been pointing out for two years now, the longer Moyer remains in the game, the more his candidacy for Hall of Fame induction gets boosted.

Now for your Jamie Moyer Fact…Despite the fact Moyer pitched 17 of his 25 years in the American League, he has racked up 148 strikeouts in 393 at-bats.  That gives him a strikeout to at-bat ratio of 2.65.  In comparison, strikeout-meister Rob Deer racked up 1409 strikeouts in 3881 at bats, giving him a ratio of 2.75, which is the highest for any player with at least 3,000 at bats. Of course, there’s a big difference between Moyer’s 0 career homers and 13 career RBIs and Deer’s 230 HR and 600 RBI. But it also means Moyer has allowed over twice as many home runs (513) as Deer hit and over three times as many earned runs (1,898).

A Dubsism Breakdown of the Alleged Cris Carter Hall of Fame Snub

The beauty of any list, especially in the world of sports, is that they are virtually guaranteed to start a debate. In this case, when the NFL announced the list of it’s Hall of Fame inductees for 2012, our fellow Sports Blog Movement member Mike Patton took it upon himself to take issue with the exclusion of Cris Carter.

The newest members of the NFL Hall of Fame have been selected. The newest members are RB Curtis Martin, defensive end Chris Doleman, defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy, offensive tackle Willie Roaf, center Dermontti Dawson, and senior selection Jack Butler. Most would not have a problem with this class at all. In fact, most would say that it’s about time that Dermontti Dawson got in and that Curtis Martin deserved it for the work that he put in, but one person is missing from this class. His name is Cris Carter.

Cris Carter was one of the best receivers of his time. He amassed 1,101 receptions and 130 touchdowns during his playing career with the Eagles, Vikings and Dolphins from 1987-2002. The numbers he put up at wide receiver were second only to Jerry Rice. But Carter was not only an excellent wide receiver; he was a consummate professional and carried himself with class. Sure, he had his moments where he angered people and ruffled a few feathers, but that is no reason for him to not be included in the Hall of Fame.

I’ve worked a lot with Mike on the Sports Blog Movement, and I respect his opinions, but I disagree with him on this point.  The main assertions of Patton’ s argument break down as follows:

  • “Cris Carter was one of the best receivers of his time”
  • Cris Carter didn’t get inducted because the press didn’t like him
  • The Hall-of-Fame voting process is broken

As I am prone to do with these breakdowns, let’s take those three points one-at-a-time.

1) “Cris Carter was one of the best receivers of his time”

Sorry, Mike, Carter was very good, but I always considered him to be over-rated.  If you look at the 16 seasons of Cris Carter’s career, he’s never barely more than a role player in half of them.  This means the years we should look at for Carter’s consideration are from 1993 to 1999. Granted, this is the span where he is the most impressive, racking up 8 Pro Bowl selections and two first-team All-selections. However in that time, he leads the league in receptions once, and finishes in the top 4 in 5 additional seasons. This is important to note because for all those receptions, he never ranks higher than 7th in any single season in receiving yards. He never ranks in the top 5 in receiving yards per game. At first glance, that suggests he built a career on a lot of meaningless small-yardage receptions.

So, why is this guy a three-time finalist for the Hall-of-Fame? Because he made a lot of those catches in the “red zone.” Carter led the league in receiving touchdowns three times between 1993 and 1999 and finished in the top 5 four additional times. Carter is on the Hall of Fame list because he’s one of the great “fantasy football” players of all time. For the first two-thirds of his career, you could count on Carter to be a non-factor outside the “red zone;” this is why former Philadelphia Eagle head coach said upon releasing him “all he does is catch touchdowns.” We’ll come back to this later.

For now, let’s look at the complete list of Hall of Fame Finalists. The entries in bold are the ones who were selected for induction in 2012. The finalists I would have voted for are noted in green.

  • Jack Butler (veterans committee)
  • Dick Stanfel (veterans committee)
  • Bill Parcells
  • Jerome Bettis
  • Tim Brown
  • Cris Carter
  • Dermontti Dawson
  • Edward DeBartolo, Jr.
  • Chris Doleman
  • Kevin Greene
  • Charles Haley
  • Cortez Kennedy
  • Curtis Martin
  • Andre Reed
  • Willie Roaf
  • Will Shields
  • Aeneas Williams

This leads to another debate launched in my mind by Patton’s argument for Carter’s induction.  There are three players on that list who in my view are more worthy of induction than Carter is.  We can compare Carter’s career numbers to Tim Brown’s; the difference being Brown is also one of the great punt returners of all time, being 3rd in career punt return touchdowns, 4th in career punt returns, and 5th in career punt return yards.

The only reason I wouldn’t have voted for Brown is because there’s a cap (another fact we will come back to later) and there’s no way I can’t vote for Will Shields. Shields, the longtime guard for the Kansas City Chiefs, never missed a game in 14 seasons and was selected to the Pro Bowl 12 times. If he doesn’t get in on the first ballot, the selection committee might as well just say guards can’t get in on their first try.

Then there’s the matter of Jerome Bettis. I will vote for a Rookie of the Year, six-time Pro-Bowl, and two-time first team All-Pro running back who had over 300 rushing attempts in a season five times, and who retired 5th all-time in career touches and career rushing yards over ANY wide receiver ANY day.

In all honesty, I will admit I have a bias against receivers. To me, they are tertiary players. What I mean by that is that for a reciever to be succesful, you need two other things. Primarily, you need an offensive line who can keep a quarterback on his feet long enough to throw the ball. Secondarily, you need a quarterback who can actually throw the ball. Without those two things, a receiver is as important as hubcaps on a tractor; there’s a reason why “fantasy football” is called “fantasy.”  In other words, the rule here at Dubsism is that the farther away from the ball you are at the snap, the less crucial you are.

For even more honesty, this rule exists because one of the primary staff members here at Dubsism spent his football career as an offensive guard. Patton makes an argument that Cortez Kennedy should have been left out in favor of Carter.

If I had a choice to take anyone out of this class, I would take Cortez Kennedy…Cortez had a great career and I mean my comments as no offense to him but in my opinion, he is not one of the best defensive linemen of all time. And his greatness does not outshine the greatness that is Cris Carter. He did affect games, but did he change the way the game was played like Carter did? No. Did he give people nightmares about him? Well, I can’t lie here. Kennedy did give a few teams nightmares. But in all his glory, Kennedy was not the player that Carter was.

I will admit comparing a receiver to a defensive tackle is like comparing an apple to a Dodge pick-up truck; the stats just don’t jibe. But let me tell you this; nothing affects an offensive game plan like a defensive tackle for whom you absolutely must account because there is no one player who can neutralize him. Generally, this “must-deal-with” guy is not a defensive lineman. A perfect current example is a healthy Troy Polamalu. There’s a ton of middle linebackers fit this mold; Dick Butkus, a young Ray Lewis, or today’s Patrick Willis.  Amongst the guys playing close to the line, there’s a bigger number of edge rushers in this category like Lawrence Taylor, Derrick Brooks, or for the old-school guys, Doug Atkins, than there are for the grunts in the middle of the line. There are very few defensive tackles who by themselves were such game-changers; Alex Karras, Alan Page, and more recently Warren Sapp. Cortez Kennedy was in that class as an 8-time Pro Bowler and 3-time All-Pro.

2) Cris Carter didn’t get inducted because the press didn’t like him

That is really the only conclusion I can come to from the following sentence.

I think that some of the voters are holding a grudge. And in this instance, it is clouding their judgment. There is no way that Carter should have been left out.

Obviously, I disagree with “no way Carter should have been left out.” But more importantly, this is the place to examine Carter’s legacy. Legacies are like a bathroom rug; you can launder them, but they always retain just a bit of whatever they’ve absorbed. In Carter’s case, this is where we are forced to remember Carter needing to enter the NFL via the supplemental draft as he was about to be kicked out of Ohio State for NCAA rules violations. Then as a Philadelphia Eagle, Carter was such a pain in the ass he was flat-out released after four seasons. Carter went for a few more seasons in Minnesota being a “problem child,” only softening his dislike of fans and media when he realized he was a potential Hall-of-Fame candidate and that he was going to need some public relations savvy to win that election.

That’s the key word in all of this; election…which is just a nice way of saying “popularity contest.” Never underestimate the power of popularity; it drives 90% of what happens in this country. If you’ve ever worked in a company when layoffs occurred, in every place that didn’t have a seniority-based system in place, it is not the under-performers who get shown the door first, it is the people nobody likes.

Elections work in exactly the inverse. The winners of elections are not always the most deserving; they are often the most liked. This years example is Hall-of-Fame example Curtis Martin. Martin had a great career, but it isn’t hard to figure out he will be getting a gold blazer in Canton this summer because the voters liked him more than they liked Carter, because despite what I’ve said to this point,  Carter’s career was in my opinion more worthy of induction than Martin’s.

The simple fact is that popularity wins elections, legacies affect popularity, and nobody likes assholes. Even worse than an asshole is the one that kisses yours just to get a vote.  But as I will demonstrate in the next section, that’s only one problem Cris Carter has.

3) The Hall-of-Fame voting process is broken

Here’s where Patton and I agree, but likely not for the same reasons.

The Hall of Fame voters need to get out of their own way…As far as the Hall of Fame process, I could not be sicker about it. This same process that made wide receiver Michael Irvin wait a few times has now made Carter wait some more. So, what I suggest is why stifle greatness? Why put a limit on the amount of people that can be elected at one time? If someone deserves to be in, then put them in. It’s just that simple to me.

All in all, there are some changes that need to be made. Maybe the fans or players need to be part of the voting process. I’m not saying that I know the answer to this issue, but for too many years people have been left out of the equation that is the Hall of Fame. And I’m tired of hearing about this happening every year. The Hall can’t get the process right, so maybe someone can step in and help them get it right by providing a better way to vote people in.

As I’ve already discussed, the current system is a simple popularity contest.  Like Patton, I don’t subscribe to this theory, but it is what we have. If I had a vote, here’s what my ballot would have looked like, ranked numerically bearing in mind only the top five get inducted and without the Veteran’s committee nominees.

  1. Willie Roaf
  2. Cortez Kennedy
  3. Dermontti Dawson
  4. Jerome Bettis
  5. Will Shields
  6. Tim Brown
  7. Chris Doleman
  8. Cris Carter
  9. Curtis Martin
  10. Andre Reed
  11. Kevin Greene
  12. Aeneas Williams
  13. Charles Haley
  14. Bill Parcells
  15. Edward DeBartolo, Jr.

Patton’s thoughts on this matter tend to lie with either with who gets a vote or not having a cap on inductees.  As far as who gets a vote, this becomes a tricky proposal, because one of Patton’s major problems with the current system is it’s tendency to be a popularity contest. But as I’ve already demonstrated, that is a condition inherent to all elections. Since it can’t be eliminated, the concept becomes how to mitigate it.  The best way to do that is to limit the voting to those who a) know the most about who is truly a great player, and b) those who have the least interest in the petty stuff which fuels popularity problems like those Carter has.  To me, that means the votes belong to the players; all current and former players who have a set amount of service time. Fans and writers are the reason Carter won’t get into Canton anytime soon; I am willing to bet the outcome would be different if this were a players-only vote.

This leaves the problem of limiting the ballot to five inductees. If I had the opportunity, I’d vote for ten nominees on that list. But the problem is that the next few years are going to have a lot of first-time eligibles, many of whom are getting in on their first ballot. This is really going to jam up Carter’s chances, because, there are a big number of  of players who will carry over into these elections from previous years. The players whom I think have a better than 50/50 chance to be inducted on their first ballot are noted in bold; those who are likely to get in within five years of being eligible are noted with an asterisk.

  • 2013:  Larry Allen, Morten Andersen, Priest Holmes, Steve McNair*, Jonathan Ogden*, Warren Sapp, Michael Strahan, Bryant Young*
  • 2014: Tony Dungy, Marvin Harrison
  • 2015:  Isaac Bruce, Edgerrin James*, Walter Jones, Ty Law, Kevin Mawae*, Orlando Pace, Junior Seau, Kurt Warner*
  • 2016:  Brett Favre, Randy Moss, Terrell Owens, Peyton Manning (if he doesn’t play again)

Under the current setup, Carter’s got no chance in 2013, and almost no chance in 2015. If Carter doesn’t get in with the weak class of 2014, this sets up 2016 as the year which will prove my theory about popularity contests.  Favre is a lock even though his career ended on a sour note, and if Manning retires before the new league year, he’s in right alongside Favre.

This leaves Carter in with two other guys who undoubtedly will have  “popularity contest”  problems; first-timers Randy Moss and Terrell Owens. The debates have already started over both of them, and they both have more impressive career stats than Carter.  All three leveled some major accomplishments on the field, but all three wore out their welcomes in various places and were at some point considered more trouble than they were worth.  In other words, it wouldn’t be surprising if all three were inducted in 2016; it wouldn’t be surprising if none of them gets in.

What’s a solution to this mess? Patton likes fan voting, which to me will only make the “popularity” issues worse. I like players doing the voting, which will alienate the fans.

The Dubsism suggestion:

  • All players who meet the eligibility requirements get a one-time “in or out” vote, players who get “yes” votes on two-thirds of the ballots are inducted
  • Voting body consists of all current and former players with a set amount of service time, a select group of writers and the fans at-large. Votes are weighted; Players worth 67%, writers worth 16.5%, fans worth 16.5%.
  • Once voted “out,” a Veterans committee can put in one nominee per year exclusive of those voted in
  • All non-players (coaches, owners, etc…) are elected by a separate committee, which can induct one person independent of other committees or votes
  • Re-examine the standards for eligibility for induction given the changes in the game

No matter what, that last point is the key. The game has changed in the past thirty years, but we are determining greatness based on some old standards. Just because Cris Carter is 4th all-time in career receptions doesn’t make him the 4th best receiver of all-time; it means he played in a era when the forward pass was used far more than in previous eras.

No matter how you construct them, elections will always have an element of “popularity” built into them. But until we re-examine what greatness really is, we are going to keep making more Cris Carters.

The Dubsism All-Time Offensive Line Team

The big guys never get any love.  Even though the NFL released it’s list of Hall of Fame inductees for 2012 this weekend, it put us here at Dubsism in mind that no matter what you do with the Hall of Fame, there’s a serious amount of guys who even though they may be in the Hall of Fame, they get overlooked because they weren’t “glory” players.  Everybody loves to make lists about who they think are the greatest quarterbacks, greatest running backs, greatest “whatever skill guys” you would want to list.  To fill the gap, we’ve created just such a list for the big guys up front.

In doing so, our crack research staff here at Dubsism encountered one small problem. In order to be fair to the “old school guys;” those from the era when the O-line meant the  “Front Seven;” when the “Four Horsemen” were led by the “Seven Mules,”  we had to stick with an “old school” format. This means the following teams you will see are broken down by the “old school” definition of  who was an ” offensive lineman;” two Tackles, two Guards, two Ends, and a Center.

Pete Pihos: Set the standard for end play in the modern era.

In order to make this the most complete list we could, we had to create a standard for the ends. The was called the “Pihos” standard; so named for Philadelphia Eagle Hall of Fame End Pete Pihos.  Pihos changed the way ends were used in the NFL; no longer were ends seen merely as “extra tackles.”  If there was a current player who played like Pihos, the closest pick would be Rob Gronkowski. Pete Pihos allowed for the  emergence of the tight end as a serious offensive weapon.

Former NFL head coach George Allen offered the best description of Pihos:

“He was no giant, but he was big enough. He was no sprinter, but he was fast enough. He was extremely tough and durable and determined, and he seemed to me an exceptionally smart player. He was the kind of player coaches like me wanted to captain their clubs.”

Pete Pihos’ name  is not amongst the ends on this list; his role is far too important for mere lists.  Without him, the NFL would have never seen some of the talent it has produced at tight end since.

Beside, its not like Bill Belichick used two tight ends  (Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski) to get into the Super Bowl.

Having said that…here’s the list.

First Team:

Left End: John Mackey

John Mackey was only the second player who performed strictly as a tight end to become a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The 6-2, 224-pound Syracuse University star joined the Baltimore Colts as a No. 2 draft pick in 1963 and quickly established himself as a premier performer at his position.

He played nine seasons with the Colts and then finished his 10-year career with the San Diego Chargers in 1972. Mackey was not like other tight ends of his day, who were typically thought of as just another tackle on the line of scrimmage. John added another dimension to the position. His breakaway speed made him a legitimate long-distance threat. In 1966 for instance, six of his nine touchdown receptions came on plays of 51, 57, 64, 79, 83 and 89 yards.

Even though leg and knee injuries combined to cut short his career, he was a durable performer who missed only one game in 10 years. Mackey started every game as a rookie and then became the only first-year star to be picked for that year’s Pro Bowl. He also played in four other Pro Bowls during the 1960s. For three straight years in 1966, 1967 and 1968, he was the NFL’s all-league tight end.

In 10 seasons, the one-time NFL Players Association president caught 331 passes for 5,236 yards and 38 touchdowns. As a rookie, he caught 35 passes for 726 yards and a career high 20.7-yard average. That year, the Colts also utilized his speed as a kickoff return specialist and he averaged 30.1 yards on nine returns. Perhaps his most famous single play came in Super Bowl V when he grabbed a deflected pass from Johnny Unitas that produced a 75-yard touchdown, a Super Bowl record at the time. {1}

Left Tackle: Jim Parker

From the moment Jim Parker joined the 1957 Baltimore Colts as their first-round draft pick, he was considered a cinch for pro football stardom. Jim had been a two-way tackle, an All-America and the Outland Award winner as the nation’s top lineman at Ohio State.

Although his college coach thought his best shot in the pros would be on defense, Colts’ coach Weeb Ewbank tabbed Jim as an offensive lineman. The Colts at the time were just evolving as an National Football League power and the premier passer in the game, Johnny Unitas, was the guy who made the Baltimore attack click.

Parker had little experience in pass blocking, but Ewbank was sure Parker could do the job. “It didn’t take me long to learn the one big rule,” Parker remembered. “’Just keep them away from John,’ Coach Ewbank told me at my first practice. ‘You can be the most unpopular man on the team if the quarterback gets hurt.’ I couldn’t forget that!” And Parker didn’t forget.

The fact that he was assigned to protect such a famous teammate may explain why Parker seemed to attract more publicity than is usually accorded to offensive linemen. Another reason is that he was such an exceptional craftsman. In an out-of-the-ordinary twist, Jim divided his career almost evenly between left tackle and left guard.

Each job had its distinct set of responsibilities. Even the opponents were different. As a tackle, he went head-to-head against the faster, more agile defensive ends. At guard, his daily foes were the bigger and stronger defensive tackles. Parker handled both positions in all-pro fashion. At left tackle he earned All-Pro honors four straight times from 1958 to 1961.

In the middle of the 1962 season he was moved to left guard and at year’s end was named All-Pro at both tackle and guard. He then followed up with three straight seasons of earning All-Pro accolades at guard (1963 to 1965). During this period Parker played in eight consecutive Pro Bowls. {1}

Left Guard: Bruce Matthews

The Houston Oilers selected offensive lineman Bruce Matthews with the 9th pick overall in the 1983 National Football League Draft.  The move paid huge dividends for the franchise for the next 19 seasons.

When Matthews retired as a member of the Tennessee Titans following the 2001 season, no full-time positional player in NFL history had competed in more games (296) than the former USC All-America.  In fact, he played so long that his former Trojan teammate, Jeff Fisher, became his NFL coach. A three-time Offensive Lineman of the Year, Matthews started 292 of his 296 games played in the regular season and started all 15 playoff games in which he played.

Matthews began his pro career as a guard and earned a starting role on the team’s offensive line in just his second game.  Incredibly valuable to the team’s offense, Matthews eventually played every position along the Oilers/Titans offensive line during his long career.  He made his most starts at guard (99 on the left side, and 67 as the right guard) and center (87).  He also started 22 games as the team’s right tackle and 17 at left tackle.

The Oilers suffered through some dismal seasons early in Matthews’ career that included back-to-back 2-14 records during his first two NFL seasons.  The team steadily improved with Matthews helping solidify the offense and the Oilers reached the playoffs by 1987.  It marked the first of seven straight postseason trips for Matthews and the Oilers.  Two more playoff seasons came after the team relocated to Tennessee.  In 1999, the Titans were crowned AFC champions and advanced to Super Bowl XXXIV where they narrowly lost to the St. Louis Rams.
As the team’s fortunes improved, the accolades came in great numbers for Matthews. Beginning in 1988 and continuing through his final year, he was selected to the Pro Bowl each and every season.  His 14 consecutive Pro Bowls (9 at guard, 5 at center) tied Hall of Famer Merlin Olsen for the most ever.

Matthews was also named first-team All-Pro nine times (1988-1993, 1998-2000) and All-AFC 12 seasons (1988-1993, 1995-2000).  He was selected as a guard on the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s. {1}

Center: Mick Tingelhoff

It is one of the biggest travesties that Mick Tinglehoff is not in the Hall of Fame. Tingelhoff is the “Rodney Dangerfield” of offensive linemen; he just doesn’t get any respect, and it is completely ridiculous that he doesn’t.  Tinglehoff was one of ten players to have played in all four Vikings Super Bowl appearances in the 1970s, and is generally considered the best center of his era.  When he retired, he had played in the 2nd most consecutive games (240) in NFL history  - behind only teammate Jim Marshall (270). He was inducted into the Vikings’ Ring of Honor in 2001 and the team has retired his #53 jersey. He is also a member of the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame but for some reason has not yet been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

After graduating from Nebraska, Tingelhoff entered the 1962 NFL Draft, but was not drafted and signed with the Minnesota Vikings as a free agent in 1962.  He became their starting center during his rookie season and held that spot until he retired in 1978.  In 1964, Tinglehoff began a streak five straight AP First Team All-Pro selections and six straight Pro Bowl appearances.  In 1967, Tinglehoff was named First Team All-Pro by Newspaper Enterprise Association and UPI as well as Second Team All-Pro by the AP. In 1969, he was named the NFL’s Top Offensive Lineman of the Year by the 1,000-Yard Club.  In 1970, he was named First Team All-Pro by both the PFWA and Pro Football Weekly.  He was also named Second Team All-Pro by Newspaper Enterprise Association.  He was named First Team All-NFC for that season by the AP.

And he’s still not in the Hall of Fame.

Right Guard: John Hannah

John Hannah, a 6-2, 265-pound guard from Alabama, was the first round pick of the New England Patriots and the fourth player selected in the 1973 National Football League Draft. He was an eight-letterman star in football, track and wrestling and a two-time grid All-America at Alabama.

By starting his first 13 games before a freak leg injury forced him out of the final game of his rookie season, Hannah dispelled any concerns the Patriots might have had about his ability to adjust from the straight-ahead blocking of the college wishbone offenses to the drop-back blocking and pulling required of guards in the pros.

In the next 12 years, Hannah became widely recognized as the premier guard of pro football. He was named All-Pro 10 straight years from 1976 through 1985. He won the NFL Players Association’s Offensive Lineman of the Year award four straight years from 1978 through 1981. Hannah was named to nine Pro Bowls but missed the game following the 1983 season because of an injury.

In spite of the constant contact his body had to absorb, Hannah missed only five games because of injuries of a possible 191 in his 13-season career. He also missed three games due to a contract dispute at the start of the 1977 season. Hannah clearly was the mainstay of an excellent offensive line that helped to power the Patriots to some of their finest years.

During his career, New England enjoyed seven winning seasons and a 100-91-0 cumulative record. Hannah was given a large share of the credit when the Patriots rushed for a then-record 3,165 yards in 1978. John finished his career after the 1985 season on a high note. His final campaign had produced an AFC championship and Super Bowl XX appearance for the Patriots, and All-Pro honors and a Pro Bowl invitation for himself. {1}

Right Tackle: Dan Dierdorf

Dan Dierdorf excelled as an offensive lineman for 13 seasons from 1971 through 1983. He seemed destined for stardom from the moment he joined the St. Louis Cardinals as a second-round choice and the 43rd player selected in the 1971 draft.

Dierdorf, who had been a consensus All-America at Michigan in 1970, possessed size, speed, quickness, discipline, intelligence and consistency, all necessary attributes for an outstanding lineman. The 6-3, 275-pounder from Canton, Ohio, where he was born on June 29, 1949, played both guard and tackle his first two seasons before settling down as the permanent right tackle in his third season. Dierdorf, who was equally effective as a blocker on both running and passing plays, was the ring-leader of the line that permitted the fewest sacks in the NFC for five straight years in the mid-1970s. In 1975, the Cardinals set a then-record by allowing only eight sacks in 14 games.

He proved his durability by playing in every game until a broken jaw forced him out of two games in his seventh season in 1977. In 1979, he did miss 14 of 16 games because of a dislocated left knee. However, he bounced back strongly in 1980 with another all-pro caliber season. In 1982, Dierdorf unselfishly responded to a personnel emergency on the offensive line by agreeing to move to center. He not only made a smooth adjustment to the new position but he proved to be especially effective blocking against the bigger nose tackles of the new 3-4 defensive alignments he had to face.

Dierdorf was named All-Pro five seasons – from 1975 to 1978 and again in 1980. He was elected to six Pro Bowl games, missing only once from 1974 through 1980. The NFL Players Association picked him as the best overall blocker in the NFL three straight years from 1976 to 1978. {1}

Right Tackle/Place Kicker: Lou “The Toe” Groza*

When Lou Groza retired after the 1967 season, it was truly the end of an unforgettable era for the Cleveland Browns. The last remaining member of the original 1946 Browns team, the big offensive tackle and placekicking artist played 21 years, more than any other pro player up to that time.

Many fans remember Groza primarily as a kicker, the first specialist who became so proficient that the Browns started thinking of making field goals, instead of touchdowns, when the going was rough and time was running short. Lou, who was one of pro football’s finest offensive tackles, particularly in the middle years of his long tenure, preferred to think of himself first as a tackle who just happened to be the Browns’ field-goal kicker because he “had the talent.”

Groza was named first- or second-team all-league eight times during his career. In 1954, he was The Sporting News’ NFL Player of the Year. Nine times he was named to the Pro Bowl. Six times he was a starting tackle. In 1946, 33-man rosters prevented any team from carrying a specialist, but Groza was almost that, doing all of the kicking and playing on the scrimmage line only occasionally.

Late in his second season, Lou made “the first team” and he didn’t give up that cherished status until 1959. He sat out the entire 1960 season with a back injury and then returned in 1961 at the age of 37 for seven more campaigns as a kicker only.

In 21 years, “The Toe,” as he quickly became known, tallied 1,608 points and for years ranked as the all-time top scorer. His most dramatic kick came in the 1950 National Football League Championship Game, when his 16-yard field goal in the final seconds gave the Browns a 30-28 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. {1}

Right End: Tony Gonzalez

Tony Gonzalez is the only member of this list who is still active in the. He played college football for the University of California where he was an All-American.  Since being drafted by the Kansas City Chiefs in the first round of the 1997 NFL Draft, Gonzalez has become a twelve-time Pro Bowl selection.

He currently holds the NFL records for most receptions by a tight end in a single season (102), most receptions by a tight end in a career (1,149), career touchdowns by a tight end (95), and reception yards for a tight end (13,339).

Second Team:

Left End: Kellen Winslow

Kellen Winslow, a 6-5, 250-pound tight end played for the San Diego Chargers from 1979 to 1987. To get the draft rights to the All-America from the University of Missouri, the Chargers engineered a draft-day trade with the Cleveland Browns. The Chargers then made Winslow their first-round pick and the 13th player selected overall choice in the 1979 draft.

Winslow went on to play in five Pro Bowls and was the co-Player of the Game in the 1982 game. Kellen got off to a quick start as a rookie with 25 catches before being sidelined by a knee injury in the seventh game. He returned in 1980 with career-high 89 receptions for 1,290 yards. He had 88 catches both in 1981 and 1983 and 319 in a four-year period from 1980 to 1983.

A second-knee injury forced him to miss 17 games in 1984 and 1985. But he returned to his old form late in 1985 and 1986 and he earned his fifth Pro Bowl berth following the 1987 season after a four-year absence. A knee injury suffered in the 12th game in 1987 eventually forced his retirement.

Even though he was plagued by knee injuries much of his career, Kellen still amassed 541 receptions for 6,741 yards and 45 touchdowns in just nine National Football League seasons. In 1984, he set a personal record with 15 receptions in a game against the Green Bay Packers. At the time of his retirement, Winslow ranked fifth among active receivers and 14th among all NFL pass-catchers.

A consensus All-Pro in 1980, 1981, 1982, Winslow’s most memorable performance occurred in 1981, in the Chargers 41-38 overtime playoff victory over Miami, when he caught 13 passes for 166 yards and blocked a field goal with four seconds to play to send the game into overtime. {1}

Left Tackle: Anthony Muñoz

Anthony Muñoz, a 6-6, 278-pound offensive tackle, was the first-round pick of the Cincinnati Bengals and the third player selected overall in the 1980 NFL Draft. Some considered the pick a risk because of multiple knee injuries and the fact that he played only one full game his senior year at the University of Southern California. But as the two-time All-America lineman (1978-1979) proved, the concerns were unnecessary.

An exceptional straight-on blocker, Muñoz was agile, quick, and strong. He had great foot quickness and agility necessary to block quick defensive ends. Considered by many to be the premier tackle during his 13-seasons of play, he started 164 of 168 games from 1980-1990.

An all-around athlete, he even caught seven passes and scored four touchdowns on tackle eligible plays. His stalwart play was the key to the success that propelled Cincinnati to three AFC Central Division titles and two AFC championships (1981 and 1988).

The recipient of virtually every possible honor, Anthony was elected to 11 consecutive Pro Bowls and was named All-Pro 11 straight times from 1981 through 1991. He was named the NFL Offensive Lineman of the Year in 1981, 1987, and 1988 and the NFL Players Association Lineman of the Year in 1981, 1985, 1988, and 1989.

Always in top-notch condition, Muñoz missed only three games due to injury. His rigorous workout routine included working out in the weight room he had installed in his home and running three to four miles every day. He set high personal standards and worked tirelessly to achieve them.

Born August 19, 1958, in Ontario, California, Muñoz was too big to play Pop Warner football as a youth. Instead, he concentrated on becoming an excellent baseball player. Eventually, as a college sophomore, he pitched for USC’s national championship team in 1978. By then, however, it was clear that his size and his talents were more suited for football. {1}

Left Guard: Randall McDaniel

The Minnesota Vikings used their first round selection (19th overall) in the 1988 NFL Draft on guard Randall McDaniel, an All-America and four-year starter from Arizona State. McDaniel, who immediately earned a starting role with the Vikings, played in all 16 games in his rookie season, 15 as a starter. His efforts were recognized that year as he was selected to several all-rookie teams and named a second-team All-NFC pick.

McDaniel continued to excel the following season as he embarked on a streak of 202 consecutive starts that continued through the end of his career. He also earned the first of 12 straight Pro Bowl berths.

In 1994, McDaniel was the leader of a rock solid offensive line that held opponents to just one sack every 22.7 pass attempts, the second-best ratio in team history. In 1996, coaches felt he was so talented that he could be used in ways other than just blocking. In a late season game against the Arizona Cardinals, McDaniel had two goal line carries. Then, in the Pro Bowl a couple months later, he caught a touchdown pass, becoming the first guard in AFC-NFC Pro Bowl history to accomplish such a feat.

The 1998 season was highlighted by the high-scoring attack of the Vikings offense that scored a then-record 556 points. Showing his skill at both pass and run blocking, McDaniel allowed only 1.5 sacks all season while clearing run lanes for Minnesota running backs to average 5.4 yards per carry on his side of the line.

After earning nine straight first-team all-pro selections (1990-98) and starting 13 consecutive playoff games for the Vikings, McDaniel joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for two final seasons (2000-01) before retiring from the NFL.
Adding to an already talented offense, McDaniel in his first season with the Bucs, helped pave the way for a team that rushed for 2,066 yards. That included a team single-game record 250 yards rushing against the Dallas Cowboys. For his efforts, McDaniel was named to his final Pro Bowl.

In all, McDaniel blocked for six different 1,000-yard rushers and five 3,000-yard passers during his 14-season career. Regarded as one of the finest offensive linemen in NFL history, McDaniel was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s. {1}

Center: Mike Webster

Mike Webster, a 6-1, 255-pound All-Big Ten center at Wisconsin, was the Pittsburgh Steelers’ fifth-round selection and the 125th player taken in the 1974 NFL Draft. A three-year starter and honor student in college, Webster adapted to the pro game quickly.

For two years, he split time at center with veteran Ray Mansfield while seeing some service at guard and the special teams. However, with a start in the final game of the 1975 season, Webster began a string of 150 consecutive starts that lasted until 1986, when he missed the first four games with a dislocated elbow.

Webster, who was born March 18, 1952, at Tomahawk, Wisconsin, played more seasons (15) and more games (220) than any other player in Pittsburgh history. Webster, who was the team’s offensive captain for nine seasons, was considered to be the strongest Steeler and won the Ironman competition in 1980 to give credence to that belief.

Webster, who joined the team in the same year the Steelers won their first of four Super Bowls, also played in six AFC championship games. Pittsburgh won four of the six title games. Webster was an all-pro choice seven times and was selected to the All-AFC team five times from 1978 through 1982. He also played in nine Pro Bowls, the first five as a starter.

The Steelers made Webster a free agent in 1988 and he quickly signed on with the Kansas City Chiefs, first as an offensive line coach. But within a few weeks, Webster was back at his old center spot, starting all 16 games in 1989. He completed his 17-season, 245-game career after a final 1990 campaign with the Chiefs. {1}

Right Guard: Joe DeLamielleure

In the 1970s, Joe DeLamielleure and his Buffalo Bills offensive line mates were dubbed the “Electric Company,” because they “turned the Juice loose.” The “Juice” of course was Hall of Fame running back O.J. Simpson. An All-America and three-time All-Big Ten performer at Michigan State, “Joe D” as he was known, was selected in the first round of the 1973 NFL Draft by the Buffalo Bills.

At first, when he failed his physical, it seemed he would never play pro football. Fortunately, further tests showed his irregular heartbeat was not serious, and Joe went on to win All-Rookie honors. It was the beginning of a string of career honors that few guards had or have since exceeded.

He went on to become the most honored lineman of the Bills respected front wall. Eight times during his career he was selected first- or second-team All-Pro; seven times he was named first- or second-team All-AFC, and six times he was named to the Pro Bowl. Since 1970, only two Hall of Fame guards, John Hannah with 10 and Gene Upshaw with seven, were named All-Pro more often. In 1975, the NFL Players Association named him Offensive Lineman of the Year.

Extremely durable and dependable, Joe played in 185 consecutive games during his 13 playing seasons with the Bills and the Cleveland Browns. A starter from the first game of his rookie season, DeLamielleure played and started in every game for eight seasons in Buffalo before being traded to Cleveland in 1980. During five years in Cleveland he played in every game and had only three non-starts.

Primarily due to the success of the Bills running attack led by Simpson, DeLamielleure was best known for his run blocking. Behind the swift pulling guard, O.J. became the first player to rush for more than 2,000 yards in a season. But Joe was more than just a run blocker, he was also an effective pass blocker and rarely allowed his opponent to disrupt Buffalo’s or Cleveland’s pass plays. DeLamielleure, who was named to the NFL’s 1970s All-Decade Team, finished his career in 1985 with a final season back where it had begun, in Buffalo. {1}

Right Tackle: Willie Roaf

The New Orleans Saints drafted tackle Willie Roaf out of Louisiana Tech in the first round eighth player overall, in the 1993 NFL Draft. He was the first offensive lineman selected in that year’s draft.

Roaf started all 16 games at right tackle and did not miss an offensive snap during his first season and earned All-Rookie honors. The following year he was switched to left tackle and performed at a level that earned him more national accolades. He was voted to the Pro Bowl for the first time, named first-team All-Pro, All-NFC, and honored as the NFLPA’s NFC Offensive Lineman of the Year for the first of two consecutive seasons.

He played nine seasons in New Orleans where he started 131 regular season games. He also started two playoff games including the franchise’s first-ever postseason win, a 31-28 victory over the defending Super Bowl champion St. Louis Rams in the 2000 NFC Wild Card game.

A knee injury shortened Roaf’s 2001 season to just seven games. Then, just prior to the next year’s draft Roaf was traded by the Saints to the Kansas City Chiefs in exchange for a third-round draft pick. He rebounded from his injury to regain his form. Roaf earned All-Pro honors in three of the four seasons he played with the Chiefs. He was a key part of Kansas City’s offensive line that helped the Chiefs lead the NFL in points scored in 2002 and 2003. The club also led the AFC in total yards in 2003 and the NFL in 2004 and 2005.

The 6’5”, 300-pound Roaf retired after the 2005 season. In all, he played in 189 career games over 13 seasons and was named first-team All-NFL seven times (1994-96, 2000, 2003-05), All-NFC six times, and All-AFC three times. He was also voted to 11 Pro Bowls. The only times he did not receive an invitation to the league’s All-Star game during his career was following his rookie year and his injury-shortened 2001 season.

Roaf is also a member of the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s, and was just inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2012. {1}

Right End: Shannon Sharpe

The Denver Broncos selected Shannon Sharpe out of Savannah State in the seventh round of the 1990 NFL Draft. He retired 14 seasons later as the all-time leader in catches, yards and touchdowns by a tight end.

His breakout year came during his third season when he led the Broncos in receiving with 53 catches for 640 yards to earn his first of eight Pro Bowl nods. Other than an injury-shortened 1999 campaign, Sharpe never caught less than 60 passes in a season for the remainder of his career.

In 1993, he was named first-team All-Pro for the first of four times after catching 81 passes for 995 yards and scoring 9 touchdowns. He followed that performance with a career-high 87 receptions in 1994.

Sharpe left the Broncos in 2000 and signed with the Baltimore Ravens as an unrestricted free agent. It was while with Baltimore in 2001 that Sharpe surpassed Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome to become the NFL’s record holder for receptions and receiving yards by a tight end. After two seasons with the Ravens he returned to Denver and played two final years with the Broncos. He became the career leader in touchdowns by a tight end in his final season. All three career marks have since been surpassed. Sharpe’s final career numbers read 815 receptions for 10,060 yards and 62 TDs. Ten times he had 60 or more catches including three 80-catch seasons. Sharpe eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark three times and twice had 10 TDs in a season.

He played in 204 regular season games and started in four AFC championship games. He was the starting tight end in Denver’s back-to-back Super Bowl titles (XXXII and XXXIII) and the Ravens’ Super Bowl XXXV victory.

Sharpe’s 96-yard touchdown reception in the 2000 AFC Championship Game came on a short pass from Trent Dilfer on third-and-18. The tight end streaked up the middle untouched for the game’s first and only touchdown which proved to be all that the Ravens needed to secure its first AFC championship and Super Bowl berth. The play remains the longest TD catch in NFL playoff history.

Sharpe led the Broncos in receiving six times and the Ravens once. He was named first-team All-Pro and All-AFC in 1993, 1996, 1997 and 1998 and was selected to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s. {1}

Third Team:

Left End: Mike Ditka

Mike Ditka, the No. 1 draft pick of the Chicago Bears in 1961, introduced a new dimension to the tight end position that once was viewed primarily as an assignment for a tough, talented blocker. Ditka proved to be a superior blocker but he also became one of the first tight ends to catch a large number of passes.

He startled opponent defenses with 56 catches for 1,076 yards and 12 touchdowns in his Rookie-of-the-Year campaign in 1961. Three years later in 1964, he had 75 receptions, a season record for tight ends that lasted until 1980 and the era of the 16-game season. The 6-3, 225-pound native of Carnegie, Pennsylvania was a consensus All- America in 1960 while playing for the University of Pittsburgh.

He moved into the Bears’ starting lineup at the beginning of his rookie season and didn’t miss a start in 84 games with the Bears. He earned All-NFL honors four straight seasons from 1961 through 1964 and was a Pro Bowl choice after each of his first five seasons. He wound up his 12-year career with 427 receptions for 5,812 yards and 43 touchdowns.

At the time of his retirement after the 1972 season, he ranked second among all tight ends in receptions. In 1967, Ditka was traded to the Philadelphia Eagles. An injury in the second game that year aborted his consecutive-game streak at 86. He missed eight games in two years with the Eagles before moving on to the Dallas Cowboys in 1969. The fiercely determined and competitive Ditka regained much of his old form in four years in Dallas. His best campaign there was in 1971 when the Cowboys won their first Super Bowl championship. Ditka had 30 receptions that year and he scored the final touchdown in Dallas’ 24-3 win over the Miami Dolphins in Super Bowl VI. {1}

Left Tackle: Art Shell

Art Shell, a third-round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders in 1968, excelled on the special teams for two seasons before winning the starting offensive left tackle job in his third campaign. Within a short time, he became widely recognized as one of the premier offensive linemen in the National Football League.

Through much of his career, Shell teamed with left guard Gene Upshaw, a 1987 Pro Football Hall of Fame enshrinee, to provide the Raiders with an exceptional nucleus to a forward unit that powered the perennially strong Oakland offense of the 1970s.

Many observers rate Shell, who was equally adept as a pass protector and a blocker on running plays, as the finest of many excellent Raiders offensive linemen of the 1970s. Shell was a first- or second-team All-Pro choice six straight years from 1973 through 1978.

He also played in eight Pro Bowl games and 23 post-season contests, including eight AFL/AFC championships and the Raiders’ victories in Super Bowls XI and XV. Shell was credited with a nearly perfect performance against Jim Marshall, the Minnesota Vikings’ sterling defensive end, in Super Bowl XI.

Art played in his first 156 pro games before a pre-season injury in 1979 forced him out of the lineup for five games. He then launched another streak of 51 games that ended with an injury midway into his final 1982 campaign.

Born in Charleston, South Carolina Shell was All-State in both football and basketball at Bonds-Wilson High School in North Charleston. In college with the Maryland State-Eastern Shore grid team, he starred on both offense and defense. Art was named All-Conference three years, All-America two years by the Pittsburgh Courier and Ebony Magazine and little All-America as a senior in 1967. {1}

Left Guard: Gene Upshaw

Gene Upshaw was the Oakland Raiders’ first-round choice in the first combined AFL-NFL draft in 1967. The 6-5, 255-pound lineman had played center, tackle, and end while winning NAIA All-America honors at Texas A&I.

The Raiders’ coaching staff decided left guard would be Gene’s best pro position and Upshaw won the starting job in his rookie training camp. Upshaw’s size, it was felt, would help neutralize the effectiveness of Ernie Ladd and Buck Buchanan, two huge defensive tackles in Oakland’s division.

Gene held the guard spot for the next 15 seasons, starting in 207 straight regular season games until finally being forced out of action for one game in 1981. Upshaw returned the next week to play 10 more games in what turned out to be his final season. He was scheduled to play again in 1982, but an injury in the summer season put him on the injured reserved list for the entire campaign.

Altogether Upshaw played in an incredible 307 preseason, regular season, and post-season contests. Included in his 24 post-season games were three AFL and seven AFC championship games and Super Bowls II, XI and XV. Counting the AFL championship in 1967 and victories in Super Bowls XI and XV, Upshaw became the only player ever to start on championship teams in both the AFL and NFL.

Honors came frequently for Upshaw. He was named first- or second-team All-League or All-Conference 11 consecutive years, and he was named to play in seven Pro Bowls. Upshaw was an intense, intelligent, dedicated competitor who used his excellent size and speed to best advantage.

Extremely effective leading wide running plays; Gene was an integral part of the powerful offensive line that spawned the Raiders’ lethal running attack of the 1970s. Recognized as a team leader, Upshaw captained the Raiders’ offensive unit for eight seasons. {1}

Center: Jim Langer

Jim Langer joined the Miami Dolphins as a free agent in 1970, stayed with the club for 10 years through the 1979 season and then wound up his career with the Minnesota Vikings in 1980 and 1981. In his decade with the Dolphins, Jim developed from an obscure substitute to one of the finest centers ever to play.

Langer was named first-team All-Pro four times and All-AFC five straight years from 1973 to 1977 and was also picked for the Pro Bowl six straight times. During that period, he started in three AFC championship games and Super Bowls VI, VII and VIII.

Many qualified observers insist that Langer was the most proficient performer on a talent laden offensive line that fueled Miami’s vaunted ball-control offense. Jim played middle linebacker at South Dakota State before being signed by the Cleveland Browns as a free agent early in 1970, but was cut during training camp. Jim then latched on with the Dolphins.

For two years, he saw only limited action as a guard and a special teams player. But In 1972, he switched to center, won the starting job and wound up playing every offensive down in Miami’s perfect season.

Hard working and quick, Langer was a compact, low-driving blocker who had the strength to stymie the bigger defensive linemen. At first, Jim snapped only on T-formation scrimmage plays but, after long practice in his own backyard, he started snapping on punts and placekicks in 1974. Langer also proved to be durable.

Continuing to play in spite of injuries, Jim saw service in 141 consecutive games from 1972 until a knee injury ended his Miami tenure with seven games left in the 1979 season. Early in the 1980 campaign, he was traded to the Vikings, with whom he played two more seasons. {1}

Right Guard: Larry Little

Larry Little, unlike many highly touted Miami Dolphins stars of the 1970s, began his career in 1967 as an unheralded free agent with the San Diego Chargers. Larry, who had been a two-way tackle, team captain, and an All-Conference choice at Bethune-Cookman College, enjoyed only moderate success during his two years in San Diego.

Just before the 1969 campaign, however, he was traded to the Dolphins and it wasn’t long before the 6-1, 265-pound guard was being praised as one of the National Football League’s premier offensive linemen. A fixture at right guard during the 1970s when the Dolphins were a dominant team in pro football Little was the embodiment of the intimidating force of the famed Miami rushing attack.

A superb pass blocker, awesome on the scrimmage line and especially effective as the lead man on the powerful Dolphin sweeps, Little was named first-team All-NFL from 1971 through 1975 and again in 1977. He was also named second-team All-NFL in 1978, and All-AFC five times. Larry was selected to play in five Pro Bowls (1970, 1972, 1973, 1974, and 1975). He was named the NFL Players Association’s AFC Lineman of the Year in 1970,1971 and 1972.

When Miami rushed for a then-record 2,960 yards in its perfect 1972 season, Little was tabbed by one prestigious selection panel as the NFL’s outstanding blocker. Little displayed versatility, durability and dedication throughout his career.

Coach Don Shula called him “a real inspiration, not just for the way he performs but also for his influence on our younger players.” In one emergency situation, brought about by injuries, Little shifted to the unfamiliar right tackle spot with little effect on his quality of play. Even though he was plagued by knee, ankle, and leg injuries through much of his career, he sat out only four games because of injuries in his first 11 seasons with the Dolphins.

Right Tackle: Jackie Slater

Jackie Slater, a veteran of twenty National Football League seasons, was like the Energizer Battery bunny that “just kept going and going and going.” Drafted by the Los Angeles Rams in the third round of the 1976 NFL Draft, Slater is tied for third all time for the most seasons played in the history of the league. His 259 regular-season games played were the most ever by an offensive lineman when he retired, and his 20 seasons with one team is an NFL record.

Although used primarily as a backup and special teams player during his first three seasons, Slater became a starter in 1979 and was a part of an offensive line that surrendered just 29 sacks and helped the Rams’ offense finish second in the NFL in total yards gained with 6,006.

The 6-4, 277-pound tackle went on to become the mainstay of the Rams’ offensive line. Slater was a first- or second-team all-pro selection following five different seasons and a first- or second-team All-NFC choice, seven times. A popular player known for his work ethic and leadership skills, Slater earned seven Pro Bowl berths. His first selection followed the 1983 season, and then was chosen in consecutive years from 1985 through 1990.

Twenty-four different quarterbacks and 37 different running backs played behind Slater during his long career. A powerful drive blocker, Slater blocked for seven different 1,000-yard rushers, including Lawrence McCutcheon, Wendell Tyler, Eric Dickerson, Charles White, Greg Bell, Cleveland Gary, and Jerome Bettis. He also blocked in 107 games in which a runner gained 100 yards or more. Slater was also a quality pass blocker.

Twenty-seven times Rams quarterbacks threw for 300 yards or more in a game with Jackie in the lineup. In 1983, he and the Rams offensive line demonstrated their versatility when they allowed a league-low 23 sacks while also paving the way for Dickerson’s rookie rushing record of 1,808 yards.

A veteran of 18 playoff games, including Super Bowl XIV, Slater was a model of consistent superlative play and was widely regarded as one of the game’s premier linemen. {1}

Right End: Don Hutson

Don Hutson’s first touchdown came on an 83-yard pass from Arnie Herber in just his second game as a Green Bay Packer. He wound up with 99 career touchdown receptions, a record that stood for more than four decades. When Hutson retired in 1945 after 11 superb seasons, he held 18 NFL records, including 488 career receptions.

That was 200 more than his closest competitor. Hutson invented modern pass receiving. He created Z-outs, buttonhooks, hook-and-gos, and a whole catalog of moves and fakes. Although he had been an All-America at Alabama in 1934, there were plenty who doubted the skinny speedster could stand the pace of pro football. But it wasn’t long before his mere presence on the field had changed the defensive concept of the game.

Don could outmaneuver and outrace virtually every defender in the league. He led the NFL in receiving in eight of his 11 seasons and in scoring five straight years. Twice, in 1941 and 1942, he was named the league’s MVP.

Like everyone in the days before free substitution, Hutson was a 60-minute player who spent most of his career as a very fine safety on defense. In his final six seasons, he swiped 30 opposing quarterbacks’ passes. Often after scoring a touchdown, he would kick the extra point. In one quarter of a 1945 game, he caught four touchdown passes and kicked five PATs for an amazing 29 points.

Had it not been for a unique decision by NFL President Joe Carr, Hutson might never have become a landmark pass-catcher. After college, Don signed contracts with both the pass-minded Packers and the NFL’s Brooklyn Dodgers, a team that rarely passed. Carr ruled the contract with the earliest postmark would be honored. The Packers’ contract was postmarked 8:30 a.m., 17 minutes earlier than the Dodgers’ pact. Thus Hutson became a Packer. {1}

Honorable Mention:

Left End: Dave Casper

Tight end Dave Casper was an Honorable Mention All-America as an offensive tackle in 1972, and an All-America tight end in 1973 at Notre Dame. The Oakland Raiders selected him in the second round of the 1974 National Football League Draft.

Used primarily on special teams his first two years in Oakland, he earned a starter’s role in 1976 and quickly established himself as a dominant player, finishing the season with an impressive 53 catches for 691 yards and 10 touchdowns. His outstanding play invigorated the Raiders’ offense with a blend of pass catching and blocking that culminated in a 32-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl XI. Nicknamed “The Ghost” by his teammates, Casper was not only a great receiver and blocker, he was also a clutch performer.

Two of the game’s most memorable plays involved the sure-handed tight end. In the 1977 AFC playoff game between the Raiders and the Baltimore Colts, it was Casper’s 10-yard touchdown reception that ended the double-overtime affair, 37-31, in favor of the Raiders. “Ghost to the Post,” the game is called in reference to Casper’s 42-yard reception route that set up the tying field goal at the end of regulation.

Early the next season, Casper again pulled his team from certain defeat, on a play that would forever be remembered as “The Holy Roller.” Down six points to the San Diego Chargers with 10 seconds remaining in the game, Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler fumbled the ball. The ball rolled 13 yards to the Chargers 11, where running back Pete Banaszak batted it toward the goal line. At the 5, a quick thinking Casper continued the ball’s forward progress with his foot before finally falling on it in the end zone for the game-winning touchdown.

Casper played six and a half seasons with the Raiders. During that time he was named All-Pro and All-AFC four times and was selected to play in four Pro Bowls. Midway through the 1980 season he was traded to the Houston Oilers for a first-round and two second-round draft picks. There he was reunited with Stabler who was traded to the Oilers at the start of the season. Casper finished the season with 56 receptions and was named to his fifth Pro Bowl. In 1984, after a brief stint with the Minnesota Vikings, Casper returned to the Raiders finishing his career with 378 receptions for 5,216 yards and 52 touchdowns.  {1}

Left Tackle: Rayfield Wright

Rayfield Wright, the Dallas Cowboys seventh round draft pick in the 1967 draft, was given little chance of making the team’s final roster. But the Fort Valley (GA) State All-America demonstrated enough determination and raw athleticism that the coaching staff knew they somehow needed to work him into the lineup.

During his first three seasons the 6-6, 255-pound Wright was used as a tight end, defensive end, and offensive tackle. In 1969 when tackle Ralph Neely was injured, Coach Tom Landry decided to insert Wright into the lineup. His first opponent was future Hall of Fame defensive end Deacon Jones. “The Deacon is big and strong and mean,” Wright was cautioned by his line coach. “Well,” said the confident Wright, “so am I.”

Wright’s performance against Jones was good enough that before training camp opened in 1970, Landry announced that Wright would be his starting tackle. One season later he was named All-NFL. Known as “Big Cat,” Wright earned first- or second-team All-NFL honors six consecutive times (1971-1976). He was also selected to play in the Pro Bowl following each of those seasons.

Wright’s performance during the 1975 season was particularly impressive. Coming off knee surgery, many questioned whether “Big Cat” would even play. Not only did he play, but he again notched All-NFL honors into his career belt. In postseason play he faced three legendary defensive ends – Hall of Famer Jack Youngblood, Pittsburgh Steelers L.C. Greenwood, and Minnesota Vikings Carl Eller – head on. Each time he rose to the occasion with exceptional play.

“He was truly outstanding,” Youngblood summarized of Wright’s play in the playoff game. As for his performance against Eller, longtime Cowboys offensive line coach Jim Myers proclaimed that Rayfield “played as well or even better in that game.”

“An all-day fight with Rayfield Wright definitely is not my idea of a pleasant Sunday afternoon,” Eller once offered. “I think he is pretty much of a composite of an all-pro tackle. He has size, strength, and quickness. The big thing in Rayfield’s favor is that he has a lot of range. He moves faster than most tackles. He’s just difficult to play against.”

Myers summarized Wright’s overall career this way. “We tried to make a tight end out of Rayfield. Then we tried him on the defensive line. And then he made a great coach out of me.” {1}

Left Guard: Jerry Kramer

Jerry Kramer spent his 11-year NFL career with the Green Bay Packers as a 6’3″, 250 pound. Kramer was an integral part of the famous “Packer Sweep,” a signature play in which both guards rapidly pull out from their normal positions and lead block for a running back going around the end.

Kramer was an All-Pro five times, and a member of the NFL’s 50th anniversary team in 1969, but surprisingly, even after appearing on the list of finalists ten times since becoming eligible, he has not been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

He was rated #1 in the NFL Network’s Top 10 list of players not in the Hall of Fame.


Center
: Jim Otto

Some people say that playing on the offensive line has no glory. But it’s difficult to imagine any one player dominating the honors at one position more completely than Jim Otto did both in the American Football League and in the National Football League from 1960 through 1974.

The Wausau, Wisconsin, native joined the newly founded Oakland Raiders in 1960 and, for the next 15 seasons, he was the only starting center the Raiders ever had. He was one of only three players who saw action in each of his team’s 140 regular season games over the

AFL’s ten-year history, and he played with such skill that in its entire history, the AFL never had another all-league center.

Otto, who starred as a center and linebacker at the University of Miami in Florida, won All-AFL acclaim 10 straight seasons. He was All-NFL in 1970 and 1971, and then earned second-team All-NFL honors in 1972. Not surprisingly, he was named to the all-time All-AFL team following the 1969 season.

During his 15-year career, he participated in each of the nine AFL All-Star games that were played and in the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl the first three seasons that postseason classic was scheduled. Jim never missed a game. When he retired following the 1974 season, he had started in 210 straight games in regular season but had played in 308 games as a Raider.

During that period, the Raiders, who had once been AFL doormats, rose to prominence. Oakland won seven divisional championships in an eight-year period from 1967 through 1974. The 1967 Raiders became AFL champions and played against the NFL’s Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl II. Throughout this time span, Otto was a tower of strength as the anchor of the Raiders’ talented offensive line. {1}

Right Guard: Larry Allen

Larry Allen was drafted by the Dallas Cowboys out of Sonoma State College (CA) in the second round of the 1994 NFL Draft. An 11-time Pro Bowl selection, Allen played 12 seasons with the Cowboys and earned a Super Bowl ring with the team in Super Bowl XXX.

He played his final two seasons with the San Francisco 49ers before signing a one-day contract with the Dallas Cowboys, allowing him to retire with the organization that drafted him. In his career, he played in more Pro Bowls than any other Dallas Cowboys offensive player in franchise history.

At 6′ 3″, 325 pounds, Allen is regarded as possibly one of the physically strongest men to have ever played in the NFL, having recorded a bench press of 692 pounds.

Right Tackle: Forrest Gregg

During the 15 seasons that he played in the National Football League, Forrest Gregg could have been described as one of the best ever to play his position in the history of the game. A native Texan, Forrest starred in college at Southern Methodist and was the Green Bay Packers’ No. 2 draft pick in 1956.

Even though, at 6-4 and 249 pounds, he was considered small for the job, he was ticketed from the start for the offensive right tackle position. Realizing that he would never be able to overpower the monstrous defensive left ends that would be pouring in on him, Forrest went right to work learning how to finesse them. He spent countless hours watching coaches’ films of the most noted stars. It wasn’t long before he knew the moves of every opponent and had perfected ways to combat them.

Forrest earned an “iron-man” tag by playing in a then league record 188 consecutive games from 1956 until 1971, his final season which he spent with the Super Bowl bound Dallas Cowboys. As the Packers grew in stature in the 1960s, so too did Gregg. He won All-NFL acclaim eight straight years from 1960 through 1967 and was selected to play in nine Pro Bowls.

In 1961 and again in 1965, when injuries created a crisis on the Packers’ offensive line, Gregg willingly switched to guard to fill the void. In 1965, one major wire service named him an All-NFL at guard, the other picked him as its all-league tackle. A most fitting tribute came from the late Vince Lombardi who was blessed with many great stars during the dynasty years in Green Bay. But Vince, in his book, “Run to Daylight,” stated simply: “Forrest Gregg is the finest player I ever coached!” {1}

Right End: Jackie Smith

Jackie Smith, a 6-4, 235-pound tight end, was a fixture for 15 years with the St. Louis Cardinals from 1963 to 1977. He finished his career with the Dallas Cowboys in 1978. At the time of his retirement, he ranked as the all-time receiver among tight ends with 480 receptions for 7,918 yards and 40 touchdowns.

An outstanding football and track competitor at Northwestern Louisiana, Smith was the Cardinals’ 10th-round draft pick in 1963. Smith was a talented receiver, a punishing blocker, a fierce competitor and an excellent runner after he caught the ball. He even handled the Cardinals’ punting chores his first three seasons.

Smith became the Cardinals’ starting tight end during his 1963 rookie season and remained a fixture at that spot the rest of his tenure in St. Louis. He gave notice of things to come when he gained 212 yards on nine receptions against Pittsburgh that year.

The team’s offensive co-captain, Smith had one string of 45 straight games from 1967 to 1970, with at least one reception. He played in 121 straight games starting with his first NFL contest and continuing until a knee injury sidelined him in his ninth season in 1971.

Injuries slowed him again in 1975 and 1976 but Smith still played in 198 games. Smith played in five straight Pro Bowls from 1967 through 1971, and was named All-NFL in 1967 and 1969. He had his single season best performance in 1967 when he recorded 56 receptions for 1,205 yards and nine touchdowns.

During his career, he caught more than 40 passes seven different years. His 16.5-yard average per reception is a reflection of both his excellent speed and determined running style. {1}

{1} – Biography from the Pro Football Hall of Fame

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The Pro Football Hall of Fame Finally Inducts Its Most Important Member

Of all the bronze plaques hanging in Canton, until today the one belonging to the man who did the most for professional football in this country was conspicuously absent from the Hall of Fame.

Oddly enough, the journey of the the man who put football in all our living rooms didn’t start on a football field; rather it began at a place called Toots Shor’s Manhattan restaurant, swimming in cocktail sauce and martinis.

Born on September 11, 1916 in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Ed Sabol found himself as a 46-year old aspiring filmmaker, who had formed a fledgling company called Blair Productions. He didn’t have the resume of a filmmaker; he admittedly was an overcoat salesman whose only industry experience was filming his 14-year-old son’s football games.

Despite all that, Sabol found himself sitting across the table from NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle, having convinced the head of the second-rate league (that’s right, there was a time in this country when nobody really cared about the NFL) to sell the rights to film the 1962 NFL Championship by doubling the bid of any competitors.

Now, back at the same restaurant a few months later, it was time for the unveiling of Sabol’s celluloid capturing of the epic battle between the Packers and Giants. This was the moment that would make or break Sabol’s career.

It was an unmitigated disaster.

Sabol’s meisterwerk lay on the floor after a waiter had tripped over the projector cord, spilling it along with a tray of shrimp cocktails. Naturally, the delicate film was sliced to ribbons in the process.

How times have changed.

Despite this disaster, Sabol continued shooting the NFL.  In 1964, Blair Motion Pictures became NFL Films after Sabol gained an exclusive deal to preserve NFL games on film.  In 1995, he officially retired from NFL Films in his role as President and Chairman.  In 1996, he was elected to the International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame. On February 5th, 2011, Sabol was elected for enshrinement in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.  Today it finally happens.

Nearly 50 years after NFL Films was born, Sabol can take credit for building the first spors production company to put microphones on coaches and players, to keep a camera on the quarterback even after he threw a pass, to zero in on the flight of the ball, to include original musical scores, and to emphasize the beauty of slow-motion replay.

NFL Films is home to the longest-running sports series, the first entity to use graphics to explain football strategy, and the first live-action sports movie filmed in Cinemascope.

Not only did his pioneering work in sports cinematography and production build NFL Films into an film-making empire; the role it played in building the NFL

cannot be overestimated. Face it, one of the reasons the NFL enjoyed such popularity it it understands its television appeal.  Sabol was the first guy to understand that a football game was as much a dazzling Hollywood narrative as a competition, and that such a narrative made for great film.

Today, Sabol is 94 and retired, and accepting yet another in a long line of awards.

In his younger days, Sabol was also an accomplished swimmer. While attending Blair Academy, he excelled in several sports, and set a World Interscholastic Swimming record in the 100-yard freestyle.  He continued his noted swimming career at Ohio State University, where he was selected for the 1936 Olympic team but refused to participate because of the games’ connections to Nazi Germany.  He served in World War II, and upon returning to civilian life, worked as a clothing salesman in his father’s factory. Along the way to toady, here’s a listing of the accolades Sabol accrued.

1935:  World Interscholastic Record holder, 100-yard freestyle swimming

1937: Big Ten championship, 400-yard freestyle relay swimming

1937: National AAU championship, 400-yard freestyle relay swimming

1962-Today:  A total of 97 Emmy Awards

1987:  Order of the Leather Helmet (presented by the NFL Alumni Association)

1987: Bert Bell Memorial Award (presented by the NFL)

1991: Pete Rozelle Award (presented by the NFL)

1996: International Jewish Sports Hall of Fame

2003: Lifetime Achievement Emmy

2004: John Grierson International Gold Medal

2011: Enshrinement in the  Pro Football Hall of Fame

But most importantly, Sabol created an empire which so far has won 97 Emmys to date and completely revolutionized the manner in which sports are presented. The bottom line, without Sabol, there would be no football-based programming like Hard Knocks or Inside the NFL, there would be no ESPN, in fact, the NFL might still be a second-rate league. After all, before Sabol, the NFL rated  behind baseball, college football, boxing, and horse racing in terms of popularity.

This is why Sabol is one of only 19 “contributors” elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and clearly it’s most important.

The Definitive Dubsism Run-Down on Who Belongs in The Baseball Hall of Fame

Now that we’ve made it past Baseball’s Hall of Fame Weekend, and since Bert Blyleven finally has been inducted, you may have thought you were safe from my annual Hall of Fame rant.

You were wrong. I have lots of rants when it comes to this institution.

So there’s no misunderstanding, there’s only one guy who will not be mentioned in the following discussion; Pete Rose. The guy did the one thing they tell you you can’t ever do; he bet on baseball.

That also means I’m going counter to the prevailing opinion amongst the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA); I don’t care about the steroid issue. I’m on record saying the whole issue is much ado about nothing, and I’ve stated my reasons for believing that on more than one occasion. Besides, if all the sudden moralists in the BBWAA want to exclude “cheaters’” then we have to go back and remove everybody in the Hall of Fame who ever corked a bat, doctored a ball, or stole a sign. If you were to do that, Cooperstown would be deserted.

Like it or not, the fact that all the “cheaters” we’re still trying to win. Any of the aforementioned types of “cheating” were all about gaining some sort of competitive advantage in the pursuit of victory.

But gambling on baseball enjoys no such harbor of “virtue;” gambling goes to the very heart of the integrity of the game. This is exactly why baseball has had its staunch anti-gambling stance ever since the Black Sox scandal.  This is exactly why I will not consider Pete Rose. Don’t even try to make an argument to me otherwise.

The next five years or so should prove to be an interesting time for the BBWAA. All the blathering about steroids and the like will hit “put up or shutup” time. If the writers decide to keep the steroid guys out, there’s a long list of players who should be in Cooperstown.

I’ve dug up a list of the notable players who become eligible for induction in each of the next six years.  Players who are eligible have played 10 seasons of Major League Baseball and have been retired from for five full seasons.

Players who are likely to be inducted or should be inducted are noted in red. Borderline players noted in green, and will be discussed further in Section II.

Section I – Soon To Be Eligibles Who Need To Be Inducted Within Five Years of Becoming So

2012:

Edgardo Alfonzo, Pedro Astacio, David Bell, Jeromy Burnitz, Vinny Castilla, Scott Erickson, Carl Everett, Jeff Fassero, Alex S. Gonzalez, Danny Graves, Rick Helling, Dustin Hermanson, Jose Hernandez, Brian Jordan, Matt Lawton, Javy Lopez, Bill Mueller, Terry Mulholland, Jeff Nelson, Phil Nevin, Brad Radke, Joe Randa, Tim Salmon, Ruben Sierra, Jose Vizcaino, Bernie Williams, Eric Young

Let’s face it…Bernie Williams is the all-time post-season RBIs leader, he’s got more regular-season RBIs than Gary Carter, Dave Kingman, and Kirby Puckett, and he was a Yankee in their “glory days” of the late 90′s. He’s getting in. Since it is theoretically possible for the writers to elect ten players, we will split the difference and say that five inductees is a reasonable number.  Given that Williams is likely to be the only inductee from this class, we assume there’s room for four more to be inducted.

2013:

Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Craig Biggio, Curt Schilling, Sammy Sosa, Mike Piazza, Kenny Lofton, David Wells, Julio Franco, Shawn Green, Steve Finley, Roberto Hernandez, Jeff Cirillo, Jose Valentin, Reggie Sanders, Jeff Conine, Jose Mesa, Royce Clayton, Bob Wickman, Ryan Klesko, Aaron Sele, Woody Williams, Rondell White, Mike Lieberthal, Tony Batista, Mike Stanton, Sandy Alomar Jr., Damian Miller, Todd Walker

This class is full. I’m voting for the steroid guys. If you have a problem with that, make your own list.

Even without the steroid guys, the real argument is Curt Schilling. What’s funny is this argument comes into play in a few years again because it really applies to Pedro Martinez as well. Now that Bert Blyleven has been inducted, no eligible pitcher with more than 3,000 K’s is not in the Hall of Fame.  But most of Schilling’s other career number are borderline at best. Winning a World Series with the Red Sox will likely get him over the top.

But here’s the big question: We’ve let steroids diminish the importance of the home run numbers; why shouldn’t we do the same thing with career strikeout numbers for pitchers? First of all, half the guys who got caught using were pitchers, so the cheating was on both sides. Second of all , and most importantly, go look at how many hitters in the history of major league baseball have seasons with 150 or more strikeout. It’s happened 177 times, and less than 1/3 of them occurred before 1990

  • Dick Allen, 150, 1965
  • Nate Colbert, 150, 1970
  • Ron Kittle, 150, 1983
  • Don Lock, 151, 1963
  • Greg Luzinski, 151, 1975
  • Juan Samuel, 151, 1988
  • George Scott, 152, 1966
  • Larry Hisle, 152, 1969
  • Dave Kingman, 153, 1975
  • Rob Deer, Pete Incaviglia, Andres Gallaraga, 153, 1988
  • Wille Stargell, 154, 1971
  • Larry Parrish, 154, 1987
  • Frank Howard, 155, 1967
  • Jeff Burroughs, 155, 1975
  • Tommie Agee, 156, 1970
  • Tony Armas, 156, 1984
  • Reggie Jackson, Dave Kingman, 156, 1982
  • Danny Tartabull, 157, 1986
  • Jose Canseco, Jeff Presley, 157, 1987
  • Bo Jackson, 158, 1987
  • Andres Gallaraga, Rob Deer, 158, 1989
  • Dick Allen, 160, 1968
  • Reggie Jackson, 161, 1971
  • Butch Hobson, 162, 1977
  • Juan Samuel, 162, 1987
  • Donn Clendenon, 163, 1968
  • Gary Alexander, 166, 1978
  • Steve Balboni, 166, 1985
  • Cory Snyder, 166, 1987
  • Juan Samuel, 168, 1984
  • Pete Incaviglia, 168, 1987
  • Gorman Thomas, 170, 1980
  • Bo Jackson, 172, 1989
  • Dave Nicholson, 175, 1963
  • Gorman Thomas, 175, 1979
  • Jose Canseco, 175, 1986
  • Mike Schmidt, 180, 1975
  • Pete Incaviglia, 185, 1986
  • Rob Deer, 186, 1987
  • Bobby Bonds, 187, 1969
  • Bobby Bonds, 189, 1970

The picture becomes  even more clear when you break down those seasons by decade.

  • 1950s and prior: 0
  • 1960s: 7
  • 1970s: 12
  • 1980s: 23
  • 1990s: 35
  • 2000s: 91

You don’t need the supercomputer from NASA to calculate the trend here. The days when racking up a large number of K’s was taboo for a hitter are over. Guys now have no problem swinging out of their shoes far more often than ever before. Therefore, an argument can be made that a player who hurled 3,000 strikeouts in the past two decades really is not a fair comparison to a pitcher who did it before 1990.

Oh, and if Craig Biggio doesn’t get in, this article means nothing as the Hall of Fame will mean nothing.

2014:

Moises Alou, Armando Benitez, Sean Casey, Jose Cruz Jr., Ray Durham, Damion Easley, Jim Edmonds, Keith Foulke, Eric Gagne, Tom Glavine, Luis Gonzalez, Scott Hatteberg, Jacque Jones, Todd Jones, Jeff Kent, Jon Lieber, Esteban Loaiza, Paul Lo Duca, Greg Maddux, Matt Morris, Mike Mussina, Trot Nixon, Hideo Nomo, Jay Payton, Kenny Rogers, Richie Sexson, J.T. Snow, Shannon Stewart, Frank Thomas, Mike Timlin, Steve Trachsel, Jose Vidro

If any of the three guys I’ve picked here don’t get in eventually, it will be Kent. Maddux and Thomas are locks, Mussina likely also gets in eventually.

So, the guess would be that Maddux and Thomas will go to Cooperstown with the next three guys who deserve to be in the Hall of Fame.

2015:

Rich Aurilia, Aaron Boone, Paul Byrd, Tony Clark, Carlos Delgado, David Dellucci, Jermaine Dye, Alan Embree, Darin Erstad, Kelvim Escobar, Cliff Floyd, Nomar Garciaparra, Brian Giles, Tom Gordon, Eddie Guardado, Randy Johnson, Mark Loretta, Pedro Martinez, Ramon Martinez, Doug Mientkiewicz, Kevin Millar, Troy Percival, B.J. Ryan, Jason Schmidt, Gary Sheffield, John Smoltz, Julian Tavarez, Jarrod Washburn, David Weathers

Don’t start the Nomar stuff with me; his career numbers aren’t even close to Hall-worthy. Johnson is a no-brainer for the first ballot, and Smoltz should be in on the “Better than Eckersley” plan.  See my prior discussion of Curt Schilling for my thoughts on Pedro Martinez.

2016:

Garret Anderson, Brad Ausmus, Ken Griffey Jr., Mark Grudzielanek, Trevor Hoffman, Andy Pettitte, Mike Sweeney, Billy Wagner

There’s no way Griffey doesn’t go in on the first ballot, and I would bet Hoffman goes in as well (at least within the first few tries) as the all-time saves leader, now that the writers love relievers. More on that later when we get to Billy Wagner and Lee Smith.

2017 and Beyond:

Derek Jeter, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero, Johnny Damon, Ivan Rodriguez, Jorge Posada, Chipper Jones,  Manny Ramirez, Ichiro Suzuki

Jeter is a Yankee with multiple World Series rings and 3,000 hits. If there was ever a first-ballot lock, it’s him. Ivan Rodriguez is only 120 hits away from 3,000, he’s the active career leader in doubles, he has 300 career home run, 125 career stolen bases, and 13 Gold Gloves as a catcher – also a lock. Chipper Jones  has 2500 hits, 400 home runs, 1500 RBIs, and a league MVP title, and is only out-classed as a switch-hitter by baseball immortals Mickey Mantle and Eddie Murray. Jim Thome will be only one of only eight players with 600 home runs.

Section II – The Discussion Board

A) Players Who The Hall Cannot Be Complete Without – Cut The Crap and Induct These Guys NOW

1) “Shoeless” Joe Jackson

This is another reason why I am adamantly against Pete Rose being re-instated; it would make the injustice done to Jackson even more egregious. Jackson would have been in the Hall three-quarters of a century ago if he had been banishedas a result of the 1919 “Black Sox” World Series scandal.

The difference is that Jackson was acquitted in a court of law of any wrongdoing, but since Commissioner Kennesaw Mountian Landis was a heavy-handed, southern-fried tyrant, Jackson found himself banished largely because he played on the same team as the guilty parties.

As far as his credentials for Cooperstown are concerned, Jackson had a  .356 lifetime batting average, and was only getting better when Landis gave him the boot.

2) Dick Allen

Allen spent the 1960′s as one of the premier hitters in baseball, and even though he languished in a lengthy mid-career slump, he still smacked 351 career homers and posted a .292 batting average.  He also claimed the 1972 American League MVP award. But, he had a reputation for being an asshole and wasn’t well-liked by the writers, otherwise he likely would have been in Cooperstown 20 years ago.

3) Ron Santo

For most of the time when everybody was screaming that Brooks Robinson was the “best third baseman ever,” Ron Santo was better. Forget the fact the people who deified Robinson somehow never heard of Eddie Mathews, rather focus on the fact that Santo was a nine-time All Star and five-time Gold Glove winner. Plus, Santo was a better hitter than Robinson.

4) Rafael Palmeiro

Thanks to the hypocritical pseudo-moralism of the BBWAA,  Palmeiro is the first member of the 3,000 hit club since 1952 to not be inducted into Cooperstown on his first ballot.  So, thanks to a bunch of writers who have decided some forms of cheating are more acceptable than others, one of four players in history with 500 home runs and 3,000 hits gets stuck in Purgatory.

5)  Tony Oliva

For a guy who played the majority of his career in the pitching-dominated 1960s, Oliva still netted three batting titles while lead the American League in hits five times between 1964 and 1970.

6)  Jim Kaat

Two stats say it all:  Kaat won 283 games and 16 consecutive Gold Gloves.

7) Mike Mussina

Mussina won 270 games, posting a .638 winning percentage.  Only five other pitchers have that many wins and a better winning percentage. All five are in Cooperstown.

8 ) Mark McGwire

Here’s the fun argument for all you “steroid moralists” – everything Mark McGwire did in terms of performance enhancing substances during his career WERE NOT AGAINST THE RULES OF BASEBALL AT THE TIME.  That means a player with 583 home runs and the first to capture the  single season home run record in almost 40 years needs to be in Cooperstown.

9) Fred McGriff

Had Fred McGriff had stuck around for seven more home runs, I don’t think there would be much debate on his deserving enshrinement. That’s a minor detail; he’s only tied with Lou Gehrig for homers and ahead of Mickey Mantle in RBIs. He was also a five-time All-Star, a three-time Silver Slugger Award winner, and he was the first player in the “live-ball” era to lead both the American and National Leagues in home runs.

10) Alan Trammell

Trammell was quietly and consistently a solid defensive shortstop. But he was also one the best offensive shortstops in history, banging out 2,365 hits and a .285 career batting average.  Trammell was a six time All-Star, won four Gold Gloves, won three Silver Sluggers for offense at the shortstop position, and was World Series MVP in 1984.

11)  Dave Parker

Parker is another guy whose personal baggage inhibits his induction. Without getting into the details, the bottom line is this: if  Jim Rice and Orlando Cepeda can get into Cooperstown, then you have to induct Parker because he was better than both of them. If you doubt that compare his career numbers in hits, doubles, RBIs, runs scored, and stolen bases to either Rice or Cepeda. He leads both of them.

12) Jeff Bagwell

While Bagwell may have been overshadowed by a glut of stars at first base during his career, he still put up Hall of Fame numbers, specifically 449 home runs and a .297 career batting average. Not to mention, his power numbers suffered from playing in the Houston Astrodome, a ballpark with dimensions only slightly less than that of a lunar crater.

13) Barry Larkin

Similar to Trammell, Larkin was a quiet, consistent shortstop, although Larkin had a bit more “star” power,” winning the NL Most Valuable Player Award in 1995 and belting 33 home runs the following year. You won’t find Barry Larkin on any of the All Time leaders lists in offensive categories, but a total look at his career will find a player who did everything well with no glaring weakness.

14) Dale Murphy

Murphy compares statistically very favorably to Duke Snider.  He hit 398 home runs and won back-to-back League MVP awards. Don’t forget during his career, Murphy drew comparisons to Willie Mays and Joe DiMaggio…seriously.

15) Tommy John

John won 288 games in his 26-year career and  was the first man that underwent the ligament-replacement surgical procedure which is named after him. When he was injured, people said he would never be able to pitch again. When he recovered, he proved the skeptics wrong for the next 14 years. In fact, many of the best years of his career came after the surgery; he won 20 games three times after his return.

Obviously, he was one of the most durable pitchers of his time, but he was also one of the best. John was a four-time All-Star, yet he only received 31.7 percent of the Hall of Fame vote in 2009, which was his last year of eligibility.  So, I’m looking at you, Veterans Committee…

B) Players Who Really Should Be In The Hall Fame – There’s  More Reasons Why They Should Be In Than Out

1) Lee Smith

It is time to put it out there…relievers are getting the keys to Cooperstown whether you like it or not. The debate’s over; they’re getting in. Hoyt Wilhelm, the first releiver of note, is in…as well as Rollie Fingers, Bruce Sutter, Dennis Eckersley, and Goose Gossage. but a curious omission is Lee Smith and his 478 saves, which was the big league record when he retired.

2) Jeff Kent

In terms of offensive production, Kent was one of the best second-basemen of all time.  Kent is in the top 10 for OPS+ for second baseman with a minimum of 1000 career games; it is important to note names like Roberto Alomar, Ryne Sandberg, Lou Whitaker, Craig Biggio, and Alfonso Soriano are not on that list.  He was a 5-time All-Star, 4-time Silver Slugger winner, and he won the 2000 NL MVP.  He is the only second basemen to have six consecutive seasons with 100 RBI and eight such seasons all-together. The only second baseman with more 100 RBI seasons is Honus Wagner.

3)  Tim Raines

Tim Raines suffered from three problems. He was overshadowed by Rickey Henderson (who is arguably the greatest offensive player ever), the All-Star caliber years of his career were invisible in that baseball wasteland known as Montreal, and his well-documented cocaine problems. Despite all that, he racked up 808 stolen bases, 2,605 hits, 1,517 runs and a .294 career batting average.

4) Harold Baines

Here’s another one of those debates like the role of relief pitchers? Can a player who primarily played as a Designated Hitter be inducted into the Hall of Fame. If he’s one of the best, he’s one of the best.  Face it, DH’s are to “Position players” what relievers are to starting pitchers. Relievers are getting their due, and it’s time for the DHs to get theirs. Not to mention, if the DH existed 80 years ago, tons of guys who are baseball icons now would have been DHs, and they wouldn’t have been excluded from Cooperstown.

Having said that, look at Baines career numbers and look where he stacks up against other Hall of Famers:

  • .289 Career Batting Average – comparable to Billy Williams, Nellie Fox, and Travis Jackson
  • 2,866 Career Hits – comparable to Babe Ruth and Mel Ott
  • 384 Career Home Runs – comparable to Orlando Cepeda, Jim Rice, and Johnny Bench
  • 1,628 Career RBIs – comparable to Mike Schmidt, Ernie Banks, and Tony Perez

Slice the bologna as thin as you want; this guy’s a Hall of Famer.

5) Lou Whitaker

Perhaps we could put Whitaker’s deserved Hall plaque next to his double play partner Alan Trammell’s deserved plaque.  Trouble is that making that happen will fall to the Veteran’s Committee, which needs to live up to it’s mission of finding players overlooked by the BBWAA. Whitaker was one of the best second basemen of his generation, yet couldn’t 3% of the vote his only time on the writer’s ballot.

6) Minnie Minoso

Picture a 1950′s Caribbean version of Barry Larkin who also had a knack for “taking one for the team.”  In addition to getting hit by pitched balls 192 times, like Larkin,  Minoso did a little bit of everything well, batting above .300 eight full seasons, hitting 198 home runs, stealing 205 bases, and winning three Gold Gloves.

7) Ken Boyer

No position has less inducted players than third base. For some reason, third basemen don’t get the love they deserve, which is the only reason I can see why Ken Boyer is not in Cooperstown. After all, Boyer was seven-time All Star, five-time Gold Glove-winner, and the 1964 NL MVP.

8 ) Luis Tiant 

Now that Bert Blyleven is in Cooperstown, it is time to unveil my new under-rated pitcher who hasn’t been given the respect he is due. Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Luis Tiant.  Tiant’s career numbers are just over the Cooperstown city limit in my book (229 wins, 3.30 ERA), still he was legitimately one of the best pitchers of the 1970s. Not to mention during his 19-year career, Tiant won 20 games four times and at various points, led the league in ERA, shutouts, WHIP, and strikeouts per 9 innings.

9) Dwight Evans

“Dewey” Evans might be the definition of borderline Hall of Famer. He’s a two-time Silver Slugger Award winner, three-time All-Star,  eight-time Gold Glove winner who posted a .272 career batting average with 2,446 hits (more than Mickey Mantle and Ryne Sandberg), 385 home runs (more than Jim Rice, Orlando Cepeda, and Ralph Kiner), and 1384 RBIs (more than Joe Medwick and Johnny Bench).

10) Jack Morris

Morris was one the dominant pitchers of his era. He post a mark of 254-186 lifetime with a 3.90 ERA. His dominance is best illustrated by his 10-inning, 1-0 shutout victory for the Minnesota Twins in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series.

11) Joe Torre 

One way or another, Torre is getting into Cooperstown, most likely as a manager, but there’s an outside shot for him to go in as a player.  Torre was an All Star catcher and first baseman, winning the 1971 NL MVP award 24 home runs, 137 RBIs, and a .363 average. He hit .297 for his career in a pitching-dominated era when .301 won batting titles. But as a skipper Torre notched 12 division titles, 6 AL Pennants, 4 World Series Championships, and 2,326 wins (5th all-time).

12) Ted Simmons

Simmons is another darling of the sabremeticians. I think he simply got overshadowed by the “big name” catchers like Johnny Bench, Gary Carter, and Carlton Fisk, which is unfortunate since his offensive numbers are very comparable to all three.

13) Bill Freehan 

Freehan was one of the best catchers in baseball; he won five Gold Gloves and was an All Star 11 of his 15 seasons. So, how does an 11-time All-Star get overlooked? He has the same problem as Ted Simmons, they played in an era with a load of great catchers like  Johnny Bench, Carlton Fisk, and Thurman Munson.

14) Deacon White

Speaking of catchers, throughout the history of baseball, those guys behind the plate have only been the offensive focal point of a team on very, very rare occasions.  Now, imagine a guy who consistently drove in 50 RBIs (in a 60-game season) while catching bare-handed.

15) Larry Walker 

Enter the following search in your web browser: “players who put up gaudy number’s in a hitter’s era in a hitter’s ballpark.” Three names you’ll get are Chuck Klein, Lefty O’Doul, and Larry Walker.

16) Paul Hines

He may be the greatest-hitting utility man ever. He had over 2,100 hits, a career batting average of .302, and a slugging percentage of .409 while playing every position except shortstop and pitcher. Despite that, you never heard of him even though he’s a triple-crown winner… probably because he won it in 1878.

17) Billy Wagner

Never led the league in saves while racking up 422 in his career. He was one the dominant closers of his time, and he belongs on the list of all-time guys in that role.

18) Gil Hodges

There’s a very large contingent of fans and former players who believe Cooperstown’s greatest omission is that of Gil Hodges. Perhaps the best defensive first baseman in big league history, with 370 home runs to boot, Hodges was a central figure of the Boys of Summer Brooklyn Dodgers.

19) Bill Dahlen

Nobody alive and reading this remembers Dahlen since he played at the turn of the last century. A longtime shortstop in a time where shortstops who could hit were as rare as albino water buffaloes, Dahlen hit .272 lifetime with 2,461 hits. He is a favorite of the sabremeticians and traditionalists.

20) Dave Concepcion

Concepcion played shortstop for 19 seasons, forming a cornerstone of those great Cincinnati “Big Red Machine” teams of the 1970s. Along the way, he picked up five Gold Gloves and made nine All-Star teams.

21) Juan Gonzalez

Two-time AL MVP,  three-time All-Star, six-time Silver Slugger Award winner, 434 career home runs, 1,404 RBIs, and a career slugging percentage of .561, which is why he was arguably the most feared slugger of the 1990s.

22) Carlos Delgado

For hitters, I’m a big believer in “magic numbers” for induction – 3,000 hits, 500 home runs, or 1,500 RBIs. Delgado was close to 500 homers, but he’s over 1,500 RBIs.  Plus, he’s a two-time All-Star and a three-time Silver Slugger winner in an era stocked with stud first basemen.

23) Javy Lopez

One of the best catchers of his era, and a legitimate offensive threat from the catcher position, but suffers from playing in the shadow of Mike Piazza and Ivan Rodriguez.

24) Bobby Bonds

Speaking of guys in the shadows, let’s talk about Bobby Bonds. At first, shared an outfield with Willie Mays.  In his final years, he remained a talented pro but was regulated to journeyman status bouncing around the league.  Bobby Bonds was one of the great lead-off men of all time.  He combined power and speed in ways that nobody had before and in 1973 he was a home run away from becoming the first ever 40 home run/40 stolen base player in baseball history.  Bonds cracked the 30/30 mark five times in his career.

C) Players Who Really Shouldn’t Get Into The Hall Fame – There’s  More Reasons Why They Should Be Out Than In

1)  Edgar Martinez

The other side of the DH coin – Martinez’ career numbers of 309 home runs and 1,261 RBIs just aren’t good enough for a guy who doesn’t do anything other than hit. If you are a DH who wants my Hall of Fame vote, you have to produce – give me either 500 home runs or 1,500 RBIs.

2) Steve Garvey

Here’s a case where I totally agree with the BBWAA. Garvery’s days on the ballot bucked all the conventional wisdom. It is rare for a guy to get over 40% of the votes on his first ballot and not eventually be inducted. Garvey’s numbers actually went in reverse; he got 41.6% in his first year and 21.1% in his last year.

3) Andy Pettitte

To me, Pettitte was never dominant – rather, he was a guy who always pitched on good teams. He only won 20 games in a season twice, he never threw 200 strikeouts in a season, and his career WHIP is mediocre at best.

4) Darrell Evans

It speaks volumes that Evans hit 414 career home runs and only lasted on the writer’s ballot for a single year. This is likely due to his exceptionally uni-dimensional ability; he could slug and that was it. To understand what a liability Evans was on the field, find a copy of Game 4 of the 1987 ALCS.

5) Thurman Munson

A seven-time All Star, three-time Gold Glove-winning catcher, and AL MVP in 1976. But he died too soon.

6) Albert Belle

If Albert Belle a) weren’t  unconscionable prick and b) had two more seasons at his career average performance (.295, 40 HR, 103 RBI) he’d be a lock. But a career cut short by injury and the fact everybody in baseball hated him means he has no shot.

7) Dwight Gooden

Gooden falls statistically into that same bucket as Dizzy Dean. Gooden’s 194 wins are better than Dean’s career total, but they both were dominant for similarly short periods of time. Plus, they both destroyed their careers through substance abuse.

By the way, I don’t think Dean belongs in Cooperstown either.

8 ) Kevin Brown

The best way to describe Brown is if Albert Belle were a pitcher. He had close to a decade worth of dominating seasons, but his 211-144 career record combined with the fact he was universally hated means he has no chance.

9) Orel Hershiser

The best way to describe Hershiser is if Steve Garvey was a pitcher.  He’s got the same smarmy, “clean-cut” image that simply hasn’t been debunked yet like Garvey’s was, he’s got the same type of flickers of greatness in his career, but there just weren’t enough of them. Garvey’s not going to Cooperstown, and neither is Hershiser.

10) Keith Hernandez

He has eleven Gold Gloves, he was the 1979 NL MVP, and he doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame. He was a great fielder with no power at the plate playing a position suited to a slugger who can’t field.

11) Don Mattingly

Mattingly is another guy who just not great long enough.  If he had tacked a few more seasons on his career like his early years when he bagged a batting title, an AL MVP award,  and was a constant .300 hitter, he wouldn’t be in this section of the list.

12) Vada Pinson

Good for a long time, but never great. Pinson’s career showed the promise of a Hall of Fame career, but it proved to be a lot of unused potential. He racked up many hits (four times he compiled over 200 in a season), he had decent speed, but never the led the league in steals.  He could field, but only had one Gold Glove.

13) Garrett Anderson

Essentially a latter-day Vada Pinson.

14)  Ron Guidry

Another case of Hershiser Syndrome – flickers of greatness with one unbelievable season – 1978, when Guidry went 25-3 with a 1.74 ERA, nine shutouts, and 248 strikeouts. For entrance to Cooperstown, he needed a few more 1978s.

15) Dan Quisenberry

It what has proven a theme on this list, Quisenberry was great for too short a period of time.

16) Maury Wills

Because he didn’t get to the bigs until he was 26, he simply didn’t have time to rack up hall-worthy number.

17) Roger Maris

One shining season in the sun just isn’t enough. But what a season it was…

18) Graig Nettles

He’s simply too much like another third baseman of his time, Darrell Evans. , Nettles had similar power and a similar lack of average (390 home runs and a .248 career batting average). In all fairness, Nettles won a few Gold Gloves. Maybe if he’d cracked 50 more home runs…

19) Johnny Damon

Since Damon is still active, this conversation revolves around what Damon needs to do for enshrinement. I posed this question to the chairman of the Dubsism Advisory Board, Dick Marple. According to him, Damon must:

  • Get 3,000 hits

-OR-

  • End up high on the all-time runs scored list
  • End up high on the all-time stolen base list (but he still needs the hits and runs)
  • Offer a public apology for playing for BOTH the Red Sox and Yankees
  • Get Mr. Marple membership in the BBWAA while having him serviced by an endless stream of Thai babes who claim to be Johnny Damon’s relatives

Let’s face it…No 3,000 hits, no Cooperstown for Johnny.

20) Dave Kingman

Like Darrell Evans, for the longest time Kingman was the only other player with 400 home runs who was not in the Hall of Fame. Why is that? Because Kingman was the only other guy as uni-dimensional as Evans.

21) Manny Ramirez

Here’s the guy the steroid moralists can use to get the pound of flesh they want. Who better than the guy who clearly defied the anti-PED rule at least three times. Forget about the guys who were allegedly juicing before it was no longer permitted in baseball, forget about the guys who got caught once. Where better than baseball for a demonstration of “three strikes and you’re out?”

Conclusion

There’s a few points that must be considered in terms of discussing this list.

The first is there are two types of people who are clearly screwing up what the Hall of Fame is supposed to be about.  The first group are the “steroid moralists,” a group whose complete hypocrisy should of itself be enough to disqualify them from having any say in who belongs in the Hall of Fame. The same people who are wringing their hands about what steroids did the the “integrity of the game” are the same ones who cried about how baseball was “boring” in the 1990s and couldn’t wait to sing the praises of the offensive explosion of the late 90s.

The second group is the Hall of Fame itself; specifically the Veteran’s Committee. This group needs a significant structural change because it needs broader abilities to “fix” the mistakes made by the BBWAA. Even if you reject my position on the steroid issue, look at all the names in Section I who clearly belong in Cooperstown, but won’t get there because the Veteran’s committee has limited abilities.

Then, there is the whole matter of relief pitchers and designated hitters being in the Hall of Fame. Why should there be a class of player excluded simply because the “traditionalists” haven’t come to terms with the fact that we aren’t in 1934 anymore.  Set standards for these guys, and appreciate the great ones like you would with any other players.

The bottom line: the Hall of Fame is about greatness on the field, not politics and B.S. from off of it.

Congratualtions, Bert Blyleven

At long last, our long national nightmare is over.  Bert Blyleven has been elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. This corrects one of the great injustices of all time in baseball. Blyleven was named on 79.7 percent of the ballots, receiving 463 votes.  A candidate must receive 75 percent of the vote to gain election. The threshold for election this year was 436 votes. Blyleven will join Roberto Alomar and general Manager Pat Gillick at the Induction Ceremony this summer in Cooperstown, New York.

Is Chipper Jones a Hall Of Famer?

As much as we don’t want to say it, we may have seen the last of Larry Wayne “Chipper” Jones. The Atlanta Braves said on Thursday the 38-year-old third baseman tore his anterior cruciate ligament, and that the injury requires surgery.

Repairing a torn ACL usually requires a recovery period of six months, which in theory could have Jones ready for Opening Day 2011 — if Jones decides to return. Even before ending this season sooner than expected, Jones had already been hinting this season would be his last.  Torn ACLs are not an easy injury from which to make a recovery, let alone after 16 major-league seasons.

So the question is: If we have indeed seen the last of the Chipper Jones era in Atlanta, is the long-time Brave a Hall-of-Famer? Take a look at his resume for baseball immortality:

  • 1999 National League MVP
  • 1995 World Series Champion
  • 6-time All-Star
  • 37th all time home runs (436)
  • 52nd all time in RBI (1491)
  • 69th all time in runs scored (1505)
  • 94th all time in hits (2496)

You be the judge.

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