On his final chance to be elected to the Hall of Fame (15th time appearing on the ballot), former Red Sox left fielder Jim Rice made it.
Oddly enough, while Boston is, of course, overjoyed, the first reaction I saw to this was Yankees / Dodgers fan Jay Jaffe's, and it was his Facebook status, no less: "Disappointed, but hardly surprised, at the Hall of Fame's voting results regarding Tim Raines and Jim Rice. A pox on that house." He also linked to an SI article he wrote featuring an elaborate HoF formula he devised showing that Jim Rice is CLEARLY NOT (formulaic) HoF MATERIAL.
Then I talked to another Yankees fan (I swear, these are two out of the approximately three total I associate with), who was similarly incredulous...about that reaction. "[Rice] deserved it," this YF said. "I always thought he was a solid choice and never thought it would take this long."
Let me make a confession: in Boston, this will be sacrilege to say, but I really don't feel like I have a horse in this race. Jim Rice played about half his career before I was born. I remember other contemporaries of his from the late 80's, like Dewey Evans, Wade Boggs and Roger Clemens, but I don't have any personal, standout memory of him.
Looking at the raw numbers Jaffe presented, it's tough to argue with those. And after all, a Hall of Fame is supposed to adhere to a consistent standard for admission. I also wonder why the same voters that stubbornly denied Rice his induction for 15 freakin' years would have finally relented this time--unless the 15 years that came before were an attempt to teach him a petty, spiteful and altogether unprofessional lesson.
But that seems unrealistic--at least that all or a majority of voters could be that spiteful for that long. And the fact of the matter is that at best, Jim Rice's numbers put him on the bubble.
No, what I think changed between the last round of HoF voting and this one is a little thing called the Mitchell Report. Want proof? While Rice finally squeaked in this year with a lifetime .298 / .352 / .502, another player with .263 / .394 / .588 was snubbed this year.
That second man's name? Mark McGwire.
Ultimately, in a year of steroids, the clean-hitting man is King.