Tim Raines’ Election Into The Hall of Fame Long Overdue
On Wednesday, it became offical that Montrael Expos legend Tim Raines will be immortalized. But maybe it should have happened much sooner than 2017.
The 1980s were a confusing time in Major League Baseball. It had Astroturf, a cocaine trial, and a random franchise winning the World Series every single year. Maybe, it’s because of the coke. Maybe, it’s because of the NFL officially taking over as America’s Game. But for one reason or another, nobody seems to remember or care about what went on with baseball in the “crazy eighties.”
For example, Jack Morris, the winningest pitcher of the decade and a clutch big game player as well, has not even sniffed Cooperstown in the 22+ years since his retirement, is telling of how little that decade mattered in the grand history of baseball. There are other examples of forgotten stars from that era, such as Dale Murphy, who despite winning two NL MVPs in that decade, never got the call in all his years on the Hall of Fame ballot. Or Alan Trammel, possibly the decades best all around shortstop, who also has not sniffed induction.
But my favorite example of injustice from this period is Tim “Rock” Raines, and I will discuss said injustice by comparing the careers of Raines and a much more respected baseball figure.
It’s fascinating to look at the similarities, yet the differences, between Raines and the much more celebrated Rickey Henderson. Both Raines and Henderson are among the all-time leaders in stolen bases, as Henderson is number one and Raines is number five.
More from Rum Bunter
- Pittsburgh Pirates Add Left-Handed Reliever Via Rule 5 Draft
- Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors: Interest in Catcher Tucker Barnhart
- Pittsburgh Pirates: Bold Strategy to Start at Second Base
- Pittsburgh Pirates Sign Pitcher Vince Velasquez
- Pittsburgh Pirates News: Bucs Sign LHP Reliever Jarlin Garcia
Subsequently, both are among the greatest leadoff hitters of their era. Raines retired with a career on-base percentage of .385 and Henderson .401 (walks are important, everybody). Raines retired with a considerably higher career batting average, as Henderson left the game with a .279 clip and Raines at .294.
Both played the game for a long time, as Raines retired at age 42 and Henderson at age 44, and both entered Major League Baseball in the year of our Lord, 1979. So, why is it that Henderson was a first-ballot Hall of Famer and regarded by some as an all-time great, while Raines is just now getting his due?
Well, there are a few reasons. The first is obvious; 1,406 to 808. That was the final stolen bases scoreboard for these two men. Henderson is the all-time stolen base leader by a wide margin, beating out Cardinal great Lou Brock by 468 bags, and most Henderson supporters would stop right there when pleading their case for this discussion.
However, one must consider that along with stealing a lot of bases, Ricky Henderson was also caught stealing. A lot. Case in point, despite swiping 598 fewer bags than “Ricky-Be-Ricky,” Raines was the more efficient base-stealer of the two, as Raines swiped 808 bags in 954 tries, while Henderson swiped 1,406 bags in 1,741 attempts. Breaking it down further, if my calculations are correct, Raines had a success rate of 84.6 percent, while Henderson’s success rate was 80.7 percent. Mind blowing, eh?
Another reason for Henderson’s acclaim among the baseball establishment is his personality. “Ricky has tears in his eyes,” is a quote from his jersey retirement ceremony at Oakland-Alameda County Colisuem in 2009.
Henderson is known to all baseball fans as one of the greatest characters in the history of the game, and that’s where part of his appeal is. Raines, on the other hand, was not as flashy as Ricky, and don’t think that this does not contribute at least somewhat to the gap between calls to the hall.
Another potential factor as to why it took so damn long is Tim Raines history with drugs. Yes, the 1980s were a crazy time, and as mentioned earlier, there was a lot of cocaine. Apparently, the reason Raines would always slide headfirst into second base was so that he would not break the cocaine in his back pocket.
These habits certainly did not help Raines cause, but to me, what he did right on the field far outweighs what he did wrong off of it. This is particularly the case because the two other players inducted along with Raines; Jeff Bagwell and Ivan “Pudge” Rodriguez, had ties to Performance Enhancing Supplements throughout their career. Raines had his flaws, sure, but if cocaine was the #1 reason why it took Rock over two decades to get the call from Cooperstown, then that is a pretty hypocritical thing, as far too many of men who had more serious issuses are in the hall .
Next: Barry Bonds Should Be In The HOF
Is Tim Raines one of the 50 greatest baseball players to ever live? No. Was his resume worthy of a slam dunk, first ballot induction? Probably not. But was Tim Raines one of the best at what his job was, which was to get on base, take the extra base, and help his club score a run? You bet. For that, he deserved the call to Cooperstown and deserved it much sooner than he got it.
In conclusion, I would like to congratulate Timothy Raines on becoming a baseball immortal. You better believe that he deserved it.