Monday, July 28, 2008

Baines Brought The Leather Too

I've been a little under the weather today. I was out, yesterday, at RidgeFest '08, which is an annual festival that a neighboring town puts on. In all the years that they have been doing this fest, I've never attended. I'm not usually one for gobs of people out in the sun, with $4 refreshments and no shade.

Anyway, Tracey and I were there to check out the reunion of her cousin's band, Dreams. They used to do these fests every year... about 13 years ago. Long story short, they reunited for kicks and were invited to play.

Dreams turned out to be better sounding than the 18 year old demo that I've been listening to for about a year. But with any concert, you have to shout over the music, if you want to have a conversation. I think I may have overdid the talking during the next act, because today I feel run down and have sinus issues.

This does have a good side though. I was able to watch Costas Now on HBO. Normally, I wouldn't stay on that program, but this episode was all about baseball. OK, that interests me. I checked the synopsis on the cable box and the lineup did not disappoint. Hank Aaron, Willie Mays, Pete Rose, Dave Winfield, Evan Longoria, Jimmy Rollins, and a score of others.

There was talk of what exactly makes a Hall of Fame candidate Hall worthy. It was an interesting listen. My ears perked up when Jim Palmer spoke about Harold Baines. Jim mentioned that Harold was a five tool player until his knees gave out. That's certainly true.

I took away a lot from this episode. Mostly, though, Pete Rose may be Hall of Fame worthy, but he's still an ass as a human being. Well, that and the fact that Dave Winfield doesn't seem to like confrontation.

The Jim Palmer comment stuck with me. I know Harold was a five tool player. Jim Palmer knows Harold was a five tool player. Why do most other people not think of Harold in that way. So, I went to my collection of Harold Baines cards to find the answer. The likely answer is staring me right in the face.

Harold standing. Harold batting. Harold sitting. Harold with a bat in his hand. Harold waiting to bat. Harold standing with a bat. Harold running after swinging a bat. Harold bunting? OK, there's always the oddball in there. My suspicions were true. There was not one card of Harold on the White Sox, in my collection, where he was playing the field.

1989 was the first time I saw him in action on the basepath on a card. I had to go to a 1992 Leaf card, when Harold was with the Athletics, to see him chase down a ball in the outfield. Then there was another one, about to catch a fly ball, on a 1993 Upper Deck card, also on the A's.

Maybe no one, outside of baseball players and Chicagoans, saw Harold play right field on any regular basis. Maybe that is why Harold is just getting enough votes to make it to the next ballot. It is so ingrained in our brains that Harold grabs a bat, hits, then sits down, that we forget that he was a great outfielder, until his knees gave out.


Andy said...

I certainly think of Baines as "only" a DH, but that's mainly because I didn't start following baseball until 1988 (hence my blog, heh.)

It should be interesting when I start the 1978 set and am forced to learn more about older players.

Steve Gierman said...

I looking forward to reading that one too. Any luck in finding the 1978 set?

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