There’s no crying in baseball until after you retire

Lee Smith feels disrespected:

Smith held the major league record for career saves with 478 from 1993 until 2006, when Trevor Hoffman surpassed it.

Yet the former imposing Cubs closer has seen fellow relievers Dennis Eckersley, Bruce Sutter and Goose Gossage elected to the Hall while he figuratively fidgets in the bullpen.

“They’re holding out on me,” Smith said from his home in Castor, La. “I have, like, 200 more saves than two or three guys who are in there. Dennis Eckersley (390 saves, 197 wins) is the only Hall of Famer who has a better save opportunity [percentage] than I do (84 to Smith’s 82). I don’t understand, man.

“And Eck had unbelievable numbers as a starter,” Smith added, referring to Eckersley becoming the first pitcher with 20-win and 50-save seasons. “The man has 100 complete games. I have no problem with him. But Goose and Sutter … they were on the ballot for a long time” . . .

. . . “When I retired, nobody seemed to know I was the all-time saves leader for almost 15 years,” Smith said. “Until Trevor Hoffman broke my record, half the people thought Eckersley was the all-time leader.”

You know, until Gossage got in last year following a multi-year whine fest, I would have thought that such antics from Smith would be counterproductive. But like they say, what’s good for the Goose . . .

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  1. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Dan: fair enough. But you have to admit that there’s something a little off-putting about a guy complaining about not being given sufficient Hall of Fame consideration.  I even like Lee Smith and think that he has a better case than Bruce Sutter does.  Indeed, I’d be happy to have a Hall of Fame with Smith in it.  I’d just like to see, I dunno, a little more quiet dignity in my sports stars while the naked advocacy is left to writers and friends and surrogates.

    Maybe that’s itself a phony distinction, but it’s just where I come down on it.

  2. Ron said...

    I blame this on sabermetrics (but don’t condemn it, becasue I do like the numbers). Before, it was the responsibiity of the voters to pick the Hall of Famers, and everyone knows they don’t really have a clue.

    Now with the saber community, there are thousands of articles every year stating why a particular guy does or doesn’t deserve to be elected.

    The players could hope eventually, given enough years, the writers would eventually vote them in. Now, with all the numbers out there, they have to base their case on performance, and not reputation. We never heard the whining or campaigning until just recently.

    I’m sure someone smarter than me could explain that a lot more in-depth.

  3. Jason B said...

    I think this article was a 500-word exercise to find a reason to use the “good for the Goose” closing line.

    And I heartily approve.

  4. Craig Calcaterra said...

    Jason:  the fact that you’d even think for one moment that I’m such a slave to the groan-inducing jokes, well, I suppose that means that you are very familiar with my work.

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