Thursday, July 19, 2012

Ron Santo: Cubs 3rd Baseman's HOF Induction Way Overdue

The wife with Ron Santo in Mesa in 2009.  Ronnie was simply the nicest guy you could ever meet.
I'm sitting here wondering today about these idiots who kept former Chicago Cubs third baseman Ron Santo out of the Baseball Hall of Fame for all these years.  Who are these jerks?  They are hard to find and hard to name.

What a tragedy that Ronnie will not be in Cooperstown this weekend to savor this supreme moment.  I just seethe every time I think about these bozos who kept Santo out for so long.

Number one on the culprit list are the sportswriters who use the Hall of Fame balloting as their revenge on players they didn't like when they were covering them.  Santo wore his heart on his sleeve, and he never missed a chance to let a sportswriter know when the writer was asking a stupid question.  He also had run-ins with teammates, notably Don Young and Dick Allen, when Ronnie felt the teammate wasn't pulling his weight.

My theory is that the sportswriters and players outside of Chicago are jealous of the Cubs and the fan adulation they receive.  Major leaguers WANT to play in Chicago for the Cubs; they don't want to play in Cincinnati!  And can you believe that these sportswriters have never unanimously elected any player to the HOF--that includes Babe Ruth, Willie Mays, and Cy Young?  Santo never came close to the 75% of sportswriter votes needed for induction.

The Hall of Fame Veterans Committee was worse when it came to inducting players.  Led by former Reds second baseman "Little" Joe Morgan, who has always had a hard-on for any Cub player, Santo was left out.  Year after year Ronnie hoped and waited, and year after year these pricks left him out.  Hell, the Veterans Committee left everybody out!

Ron Santo (#10) clicks his heels after a Cubs win in 1969 on his way to the clubhouse with his teammates.

Santo naysayers point to Ronnie clicking his heels after Cubs' home wins during the 1969 pennant race.  Mets pitcher Tom Seaver thought Santo was bush league when Ronnie did the heel click, and Seaver mocked Santo by clicking his own heels when the Mets beat the Cubs and passed them in September.  Santo always said that Cubs manager Leo Durocher, who was always looking for some kind of publicity, told Ronnie to do the heel click.

What does Santo clicking his heels have to do with getting in the Hall of Fame for God's sake?  It was 1969!  The Cubs lost!  The Mets won!  Who is the hell is going to carry a grudge that long?  Seaver sounds like my hard headed German grandmother!

Another argument is that there are too many members of the 1969 Cubs team in the Hall of Fame and that the team never won anything.   Here are the other Cubs Hall of Famers from  the 1969 team:

Ernie Banks, first baseman
Billy Williams, left fielder
Ferguson Jenkins, starting pitcher
Leo Durocher, manager

Please tell me which one of the above players/manager is not deserving.  I can remember President Richard Nixon visiting the troops in Viet Nam during the summer of 1969 and talking to the soldiers about how good the Cubs were playing.  Nixon thought the Cubs were going to win the whole thing--everybody did!  The whole country was captivated by that '69 team.

As much as I dislike sabermetrics (Cubs play-by-play man Len Kasper drives me to the vodka with his constant stat spouting during a Cubs broadcast), John Grochowski has a great story in Tuesday's Chicago Sun-Times about how Santo stacks up with other Hall of Famers:

Grochowski uses offense and defense to evaluate Hall of Famers.  The statistic is called Wins Above Replacement (WAR).  Santo's WAR is 66.6.

Hall of Famers with a higher WAR than Santo: Rickey Henderson, 106.8; Cal Ripken, 90.9; Wade Boggs, 88.3; Ozzie Smith, 73; Paul Molitor, 72.5; Larkin, 67.1.

Lower WAR than Santo: Gary Carter, 66.4; Tony Gwynn, 65.3; Ryne Sandberg, 64.9; Carlton Fisk, 63.7; Eddie Murray, 63.4; Roberto Alomar, 62.9; Andre Dawson, 60.6; Dave Winfield, 59.4; Tony Perez, 50.1; Kirby Puckett, 48.2; Jim Rice, 44.3.

Ronnie sure belongs if you look at the WAR stats!

My greatest argument in favor of Santo's HOF induction is personal experience.  I watched him from his first game to his last game, and I listened to him on many, many radio broadcasts.  I can even remember where I was when Cubs left fielder Brant Brown dropped a fly ball in left field on September 23rd, 1998 against the Brewers.  I was driving home from school on the North-South Tollway at Roosevelt Road.  I'll never forget that moment.  Santo's groan put me on the I-355 shoulder. 

Santo was a great clutch hitter and an even better fielder.  He may not have been as good defensively as Brooks Robinson, but Ronnie was in the conversation, and Santo was the better offensive third baseman.  No one knew Ronnie suffered from diabetes.  Santo never wanted his medical problems to affect how fans or the media perceived him.

Ronnie with his fan club in the 1960's. 

Santo was a great broadcaster, despite what turds like WSCR talk show host Dan Bernstein say about him.  Bernstein never misses an opportunity to make fun of Santo.  Guys lie Bernstein like to hear statistic after statistic recited during a broadcast.  Not me!  I like a broadcaster with personality like Santo or Jack Brickhouse who groan and scream when things happen in a game.

Surprisingly, the Santo family has not shown any bitterness toward the Hall of Fame and the fact that it took so long to induct Ron.  Ronnie's wife Vicki was a guest on Chicago Tribune Live on CSN Chicago last night, and she would not say a bad word about the sportswriters or the Veterans Committee.

I just see the voters' delay as meanness and jealousy.  Ron Santo's personality is bigger than the Baseball Hall of Fame.  It's as simple as that. I sure hope Ronnie and my old man are sharing an Old Style in heaven this weekend. 

Here's to you Pizza Man!

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