Hawking the Hall voters' consistency
Growing up, there were three constants in baseball: The first pitch of the season was in Cincinnati; the last pitch was in the World Series; and the baseball writers who vote on the Hall of Fame were idiots.
At least the baseball writers are holding their own.
The proof of that has always been the fact no player has ever received 100 percent of the vote: Not Willie Mays, not Hank Aaron and the list goes on and on and on.
The real evidence of that lunacy are the so-called fringe players who might get a writer's vote one year, but not the next, as though the player got better or worse at least five years after he stopped playing.
I for one don't understand how pitcher Bert Blyleven is not in: 287 wins, 3,701 strikeouts, 242 complete games and a 3.31 earned run average.
And how is it that Andre Dawson is still waiting for the call?
Over 21 years, the Hawk batted .279, had 2,774 hits, belted 438 home runs, 98 triples, 503 doubles, drove in 1,591 runs, scored 1,373 runs and stole 314 bases.
No, those numbers are not going to compare to those of Mays or Aaron. But they hold up decently to players like Duke Snyder and Robin Yount.
Here is a comparison to another resident of Cooperstown:
Reggie Jackson, in 21 seasons, batted .262, had 2,584 hits, belted 563 home runs, 49 triples, 463 doubles, drove in 1,702 runs, scored 1,551 runs and stole 228 bases.
Now, it's easy to look at the power numbers and say that's the difference. But Dawson was not a true slugger, at least not in the same way Jackson or Mike Schmidt were.
Dawson won more silver slugger awards than Jackson - four to two - and Jackson won one of his as a designated hitter. All four of Dawson's came as an outfielder.
Each was an MVP.
Jackson never earned a Gold Glove. Dawson has eight.
Like to pick apart the statistics: Jackson was issued 164 intentional walks, Dawson 143. Jackson struck out 2,579 times. Dawson struck out 1,509 times. Dawson's on-base percentage was .323, his slugging percentage was .482. Jackson's on-base percentage was .356, his slugging percentage was .490.
I'm not arguing Dawson made the same impact on the game of baseball, but in any given game, on the field, Dawson was every bit as good as Jackson - maybe even better if all the skills of the game are taken into account.
Dawson played a fair chunk of his career in Montreal - 11 years to be exact - and I suspect if he did his work in New York, he would already be in the Hall of Fame.
Now, the first pitch is no longer thrown in Cincinnati. The 1994 strike kept the last pitch from being thrown in a World Series.
Maybe Cal Ripken Jr. will get every writer's vote next year, but I doubt it. His streak of 2,632 straight games - including a run of 8,243 straight innings - and his 3,184 hits won't persuade everyone.
As I write this column knowing it will be published on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I know it certainly won't be Tony Gwynn (.338 batting average, 3,141 hits) who gets all the votes.
Sadly, that part of baseball is still a constant.