Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci has a column this week about closers and the Hall of Fame. Essentially, Verducci believes that closers are similar to kickers in football, and that it is fitting that is has been difficult for them to reach the Hall:
There is one kicker in the NFL Hall of Fame: Jan Stenerud. There are three closers in the baseball Hall of Fame: Hoyt Wilhelm, Rollie Fingers and Dennis Eckersley. That sounds about right to me. These guys are specialists and as such deserve a more critical eye when weighing their careers.
Verducci is skeptical about whether Bruce Sutter should make it, and he compares Mariano Rivera's career to Troy Percival's. The two have awfully similar regular season numbers, though Rivera still comes out on top:
Of course, Rivera has something else in his favor. He has been knighted as The Greatest Postseason Reliever in History. Rivera has thrown 96 postseason innings (15 percent of his career regular-season total) and allowed only eight earned runs, a 0.75 ERA. Those numbers alone, like Eckersley's solid years as a starter, could put Rivera over the top when voters consider his career.
Rivera is the specialist's specialist. Someday he might break through the bias writers have against relievers, a bias that deserves to be in place.
Speaking of specialists, Jesse Orosco, who will turn 47 in April, is finally calling it quits. Mama, pray your babies grown up to be southpaws...