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1/7/07 Dawson And Raines? What Are "They" Saying?...

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     With the names of this year's inductees to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York set to be announced on Tuesday, writers and baseball fans around the country have taken the opportunity to express their opinions on whether or not the career accomplishments of former Montreal Expos Andre Dawson and Tim Raines merit entry into the hallowed Hall.

     One last time before Tuesday...the numbers...

Andre Dawson - 21 seasons, 2,774 hits, 503 doubles, 98 triples,  
                          438 HR's, 1,591 RBI's, 314 steals, .279 CBA,
                          (ROY-1977), 8 time-All-Star, (NL MVP- 1987),

Tim Raines - 23 seasons, 2,605 hits, 430 doubles, 113 triples,
                     170 HR's, 980 RBI's, 808 steals, .294 CBA, 7-time
                     All-Star, 5th All-Time Career stolen bases.

     The Chicago Tribune, whose staff writers covered both Dawson and Raines in their time with the Cubs and White Sox, respectively, gathered their sports writers who offered a variety of opinions in their article, "Cooperstown call overdue?" at the chicagotribune.com website, while discussing whether they would deny or grant either player entry into the Hall.

     Dan McGrath, Associate Managing Editor of the Chicago Tribune's sports writers, writes of Dawson:

           "...here's hoping a re-examination of steroid-inflated
           numbers will prompt voters to take a more in-depth look
           at Dawson and recognize his elegant all-around talent."

     While columnist Mike Downey, who writes, "In the Wake of the News", expressed his support of Andre Dawson more succinctly:

          "A single no-brainer: Andre Dawson with his 2,774 hits
          and 438 home runs. (Joe DiMaggio had 2,214 and 361.)"

     The Chicago Tribune's national baseball reporter Phil Rogers gave Dawson the nod, while fellow writer Dave van Dyck heaps praise on "the Hawk":

           "Andre Dawson: The consummate pro, a rare six-tool
           player counting clubhouse charisma. His 1987 MVP
           season with the Cubs was one of the most remarkable in
           any city by any player."

     Chicago Tribune Baseball Writer Paul Sullivan agrees with Mr. McGrath's notion that the success of some older eligible players might be magnified in comparison to the accomplishments of other players whose careers have been touched by the "Steroid-Era", saying of Dawson:

          "Andre Dawson heads up my Hall of Fame ballot this year,
          and we can only hope that the inflated numbers of the
          steroids era help his impressive stats look that much
          better."

     While Teddy Greenstein, a Chicago Tribune staff reporter answers criticisms of Dawson's numbers, while adding to the sort of backlash that might keep Mark McGwire forever out of the Hall, writing:

          "Andre Dawson's detractors point to a crummy .323 on-
          base percentage, but I see an eight-time All-Star who
          cranked 20-plus homers 13 times. Lesser men from
          another era would have used HGH to treat his sore knees;
          Dawson used ice."

     On Raines, who clearly gets less love for his time with the White Sox than Dawson does for his Cubs career, baseball writer Mark Gonzales says of Raines chances, "... I'm grateful I'll have more chances to vote for Raines in the future...(but)...I wasn't ready to vote for Raines--yet."

     Paul Sullivan calls Raines, "a long shot", while Dave Van Dyck apologizes but neglects to offer Raines entry. Maybe these reporters would have been swayed by the column Dave Rosenheck writes this week in the New York Times Sports section entitled, "Raines Could Slide Safely Into Hall On First Try", where Mr. Rosenheck writes:

          "Even if Tim Raines had not been among the greatest base
          runners in baseball history, he would still be comfortably
          qualified for the Hall of Fame..."

     Mr. Rosenheck offers that Raines' consistenly high OBP, his skills as a leadoff hitter and base runner/stealer, and his defensive contributions alone should warrant entry in the HoF, but wonders whether a player best-known as a baserunner will receive less serious consideration.

     mlb.com's Washington Nationals writer Bill Ladson has checked in, in recent weeks, with two articles about the upcoming Hall decisions, writing about Dawson in his article, "Dawson commanded fear, respect" and Raines in an article entitled, "Raines rocked top of order for 23 years", and presenting arguments in both articles from writers and players who came in contact with each player during their playing days.

     Mr. Ladson seems to come down in favor of both players entering the Hall, but the best argument for Tim Raines is actually made by Andre Dawson, whom Mr. Ladson quotes in his article on Raines saying:

          "You are talking about a player who played 20-something
          years. He was consistent and steady. He was a catalyst.
          For what his requirements were, he did it real well...He
          was Rickey Henderson minus all the leadoff home runs.
          He was probably better defensively -- more so with a
          strong throwing arm."

     While Mr. Ladson quotes another reputable source in his article on Andre Dawson, turning to Dawson's former Cubs' teammate Ryan Sanberg, who says of "the Hawk":

          "No player in baseball history worked harder, suffered
          more or did it better than Andre Dawson...He's the best
          I've ever seen. I watched him win an MVP for a last-place
          team in 1987 [with the Cubs], and it was the most
          unbelievable thing I've ever seen in baseball..."

And then Mr. Sandberg echoes the sentiments of some of the Chicago Tribune writers quoted above, when he states:

          "...He (Dawson) did it the right way, the natural way, and
          he did it in the field and on the bases and in every way,
          and I hope he will stand up here someday."

     But all these testimonials and opionions are only a sampling of all the writers nationwide who have a say in who is granted entry into the grandest of baseball institutions. Who will have their plaque mounted on the walls, placing them among the greatest players to ever play the game? Who will be enshrined and remembered for generations to come for their accomplishments on the field? Being denied entry won't relegate either player to the dustbin of baseball history, but if either of the two are voted in, one last piece of an Expos' past which is slowly evaporating will be preserved...

(ed. note- "Not that all federalbaseball readers would care about the disappearance Montreal's past, in fact, 6 of the 17 votes cast in answer to the question of whether or not to induct Dawson or Raines, chose the option that stated that they simply didn't care about former Expos players. 7 of 17 voted "Just Tim Raines" in, while 2 voters elected Andre Dawson, and 2 votes, or 11% said both should be granted. I'll leave the poll up until Tuesday and see who was right...")

*Raines/Dawson-Hall of Fame Links*

Andre Dawson's careet stats at baseball-reference.com:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/d/dawsoan01.shtml

Tim Raines' career stats at baseball-reference.com:

http://www.baseball-reference.com/r/raineti01.shtml

The Chicago Tribune's Sports Staff's article, "Cooperstown call overdue?" at chicagotribune.com:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/sports/cs-080105baseballhalloffamvoting,1,6288438.story?page=1&ctr ack=1&cset=true

mlb.com's Bill Ladson's article, "Dawson commanded fear, respect" at washington.nationals.mlb.com:

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20071218&content_id=2332558&vkey=ne ws_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was

mlb.com's Bill Ladson's article, "Raines rocked top of order for 23 years" at washington.nationals.mlb.com:

http://washington.nationals.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20071219&content_id=2333535&vkey=ne ws_was&fext=.jsp&c_id=was