Rickey Henderson, baseball’s all-time leader in stolen bases (1,406) and runs (2,295), highlights a group of first-time Hall of Fame candidates. Meanwhile, Jim Rice, on the ballot for a 15th and final time, is generating most of the attention among rollover candidates.
Beerleaguer: A colleague wondered what Henderson’s acceptance speech would be like. “I’m sure humility will be in no short supply,” he joked. Henderson, who's a lock, joins Jay Bell, Ron Gant, Mark Grace, Greg Vaughn, Mo Vaughn, Matt Williams, David Cone, Jesse Orosco and Dan Plesac as first-time candidates. Among them, I like Grace and Cone best, but not enough to make a snap judgment this season. The Rice vote could set an important benchmark. There are many more “very goods” than “greats” in the running now and further down the trough, and Rice is right on that cusp. I advocated for Lee Smith before, but relief pitching is a little like yesterday's news now that Bruce Sutter and Goose Gossage made it. It’s funny how fashionable all this becomes. I wonder if Bert Blyleven’s time has come. As for Rice, absolutely not.