For me a Hall of Famer is a player who at some point in his career was the best at his position for a stretch. If he wasn't the best he may have been second best behind of one of the all time greats but nothing less. That being said I can understand the selection of Goose Gossage because he was the best fireman in baseball for stretch he also had longevity on his side, which I agree should be a factor, just not the deciding factor. I'll break down my feelings on the guys who will be up again in 2009 and what I think of them.
Rickey Henderson - I don't need to say a lot about Rickey. He's one of the best players ever. Any writer that doesn't vote for him is a moron and should have their credentials taken away.
David Cone - Was considered one of the top 5 pitchers in baseball for a good stretch and seeing him at his peak I say he deserves serious consideration. At the same time I wouldn't vote him. He falls just a hair short for me. I don't think he'll necessarily get the credit he deserves for being much better than the average guy during the early days of the steroid era. He's also got a CY Young so I'd hope he sticks on the ballot for a while at least.
Jim Rice - He was the most feared hitter in the AL for a good stretch, a good outfielder and his numbers add up. 8 All Star games is impressive. For me he deserves to be in already and I think he'll get there eventually.
Andre Dawson - Although I think he was a better all around player than Rice at his peak, his inability to stay healthy puts him a notch below Rice in my opinion. Had he stayed healthy he'd be in already. At the same time I feel he's deserving because he was considered the best OF in the NL at his position for a stretch and was a 7 time All Star an MVP a two time MVP runner up and Rookie of the Year. I'd vote him in.
Bert Blyleven - His career number are impressive. At the same time I don't feel he was ever considered the best at what he did, not even for one season. He never won a major award, he only pitched in one All Star game. I saw him pitch and he had one of the best breaking balls I've ever seen, but I can't say i'm convinced he deserves to be in. I'm not saying he doesn't deserve consideration, but for me he didn't have a strech of dominance which put him over the top. Maybe if he played for a better team he would have, but life isn't always fair so I leave Bert out.
Lee Smith - Fantastic closer, a 7 time all star. He probably never got the credit he deserved during his career, he was considered the best at his position for a few seasons and had a long career. I'd give him the nod but at the same time I still doubt myself at times when it comes to him. I guess it's because I've never been a big fan of the save statistic. I hope he gets in eventually he was one of the best to ever finish games.
Jack Morris - The best starting pitcher of the 1980's in my opinion. A 5 time All Star and one of the best big game pitchers to ever take the ball in the postseason. I don't care if his ERA is a bit high, he won over 250 games and was widely considered the best at what he did for a strech in his league. He goes in for me.
Tommy John - Long Career and a very good pitcher but not a great one in my opinion so I'd say no. Although I have a feeling he'll get in eventually because of his surgery. I just can't put him in ahead of Blyleven as I feel Bert was better and I didn't select him to go in.
Tim Raines - Had an amazing stretch at the beginning of his career that was Hall of Fame like, but he fell off into being mediocre pretty quickly. I'd vote for him having seen him at his peak, but after everyone else I've said I'd vote for. I think he might be a veterans committee type guy, but I hope he gets in eventually because he was the 2nd best leadoff hitter of a generation and that's ok considering how great Rickey was.
Mark McGwire - No... not only because of the Steroids, but that's part of it. Before the Roid Era he wasn't the best in my opinion. I think he was the best for a stretch but that was the Roid stretch so I'll take those 3 amazing years away from him. I rather see Fred McGriff go in ahead of him.
Alan Trammell - No, I don't feel he was dominant enough. He was a very very good SS and maybe even the best for a 2 season stretch. I think he was way better than Ozzie Smith, but I don't think Ozzie deserves to be in so I won't use Ozzie to justify Trammell. As good as he was Cal Ripken without the streak and Robin Yount were a hell of a lot better.
Dave Conception - No... he was good... not great. He's very similar to Ozzie who as you know I think is vastly overrated.
Don Mattingly - One of my favourite players and he was the best for a 3 year stretch, an MVP and bunch of Gold Gloves but no. I'd put him in ahead of McGwire though, because Mattingly got hurt and his career was substanically diminshed by that, much like Kirby, but I still feel he didn't do quite enough.
Dale Murphy - He deserves way more consideration than he gets. He won multiple MVP's. He had one of the more dominant stretches in the 80's of anyone and did this for a bad team so I'd give him the nod. I know he didn't produce much after the amazing 5 out of 6 seasons but he was what I think a Hall of Famer should be during that stretch.
Dave Parker - 7 time All Star, former MVP, but threw it away during what should have been his peak. It's a shame because he definitely had the ability to be the best, but never hit the heights for a long enough stretch in my opinion. The Cobra was excellent, but just falls short for me.