Friday, January 29, 2010

Hall of Famer Paul Quantrill

Every year there is much debate over who should be in the Hall of Fame and who should not. This past year, for instance, there was heated argument over the merits of several potential candidates. Andre Dawson made it, Bert Blyleven and former second baseman Roberto Alomar both fell short. Teeth were gnashed, radio talk shows were bombarded with callers and many, many blog posts were written over the injustice of it all.

Perhaps things would be much more peaceful if the Hall of Fame took its cue from their counterpart to the North. The Canadian Baseball Hall of Fame added Alomar to its ranks with no problem. But it was also visionary in its election of Paul Quantrill, who wasn't even on the ballot for that Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.

To me, there is only one explanation for the difference. Bias against middle relievers. Name one middle reliever whose plaque hangs in Cooperstown. Can't do it, can you? While the BBWAA, who votes for those to be inducted into the (non-Canadian) Baseball Hall of Fame, struggles over Blyleven's win-loss record and Alomar's spitting at umpires, the Canucks look at Paul Quantrill's 449 appearances in the 8th inning (let me write that out because it is so amazing -FOUR HUNDRED AND FORTY NINE APPEARANCES IN THE EIGHTH INNING) and they say, "That there is a Hall of Famer, eh!"

Some of you might be saying, "Oh, you're one of those stat nerds who lives in a house out with the Amish and you don't even have electricity to power your laptop" or something like that. To which I say, that's why I don't have a vote and the Canadians do. They brought us the +/- in hockey. They know what's important. But stats don't tell the whole story. Baseball people knew how good Quantrill was.

Rich Aurilia: "I remember back in 2003, it seemed like Quantrill was in there every other game. He'd come in and we would all be mildly distressed. It might be tough to tie up the game and then we'd only have one more inning after that against some other pitcher to have a shot. Yes, Paul had TEH MILD DISTRESS."

Anonymous Boston Red Sox executive: "There was that game in September of 2009 when the Blue Jays were just trouncing us at home. I think they were up by ten or so runs. Fans were leaving and we were really worried about the money we were going to lose in concessions. But that's the kind of pitcher Quantrill was. He was always thinking outside of what was going on on the field. He gave up three straight hits and had Homer Bush drop a ball and the fans were back buying popcorn. He was amazing."

Fans, too, will tell their grandkids about the day where they saw Quantrill come in with a man on first and a two run lead and he would protect that lead so another, better pitcher could get a "save" in the following inning. That is sacrifice.

Yes, add it all up; the shutout, the All-Star Game appearance, the five innings of postseason performance. It's pretty clear that he belongs with the other greats like Dave McKay, Reggie Cleveland and First Recorded Baseball Game.

And to think some fool is selling Quantrill's rookie card for only a dollar. You can also get the pants from his legendary 2004 season (when he went 7-3 with a save).

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