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  • 03/10/2013, 06:14PM ET

Current athlete most deserving of a unanimous HoF vote.

Marlins Fan (156-78-31) vs williewilliejuan (47-5-2)
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Got this idea from an article I recently read on ESPN.com.

Anywho, the answer to this question is undoubtedly Mariano Rivera.

Some might think Kobe or Tim Duncan in the NBA, and those are both great answers.

Some might think Peyton or Brady in the NFL, and again, those are both great answers.

I would give an NHL analogy if I knew what I was talking about, but I don't so I'll skip that.

All great answers above but the only correct answer is Mo.

You see, every other current great athlete falls short of Mo's dominance.

Rivera is the greatest closer of all time, both in the regular season and in the postseason. There is nobody from history who was a greater closer, and there's nobody right now who has a prayer of taking Rivera's mantle.

Mo is, was, and will be the greatest closer ever.

He is the only current athlete in sports who can definitively be proclaimed as the GOAT at his position.

Mo desevres a unanimous HoF vote because he's better than anybody who has ever gone before him or come after.

No one else in sports can say that about themselves.

Mo deserves a unanimous vote more than anybody, and that case is closed.

Unless you open it.


Mo's a great closer - probably the best closer of all time. But, therein lies the problem. Mo has played 18 seasons. In that time, he has pitched a grand total of 1219 innings - less than 68 innings/year, good for about 5% of the total innings played by his team in an average year. As good as Mo is at getting the final 3 outs of a game in which the Yankees have the lead, his role is too specialized to get the honor of most deserving of unanimous consideration.

That honor goes to his teammate, Derek Jeter. He has played on the same team for the same number of years as Mo. The difference is that in that time, Jeter has amassed 3304 hits from 11,895 plate appearances. He has been out on the field defensively for nearly 22,000 innings.

Because he's the Captain of the Yankees, his every move is scrutinized. Every AB, every defensive play, every gift basket to female companions can be front page news. Through it all, Jeter has proven himself to be an athlete beyond reproach, which is high praise given the steroid-fueled era in which he played.

As great as Mo has been, Jeter has been more important to the Yankees and more important to baseball.


Mo's definitely the greatest closer of all time. Between his regular season achievements and his postgame heroics, Rivera has sufficiently distanced himself from the field that we can definitively say he is the greatest closer ever.

That's a huge deal. Jeter is clearly a legend; he'll be remembered forever and his career as a Yankee is probably one of the most significant sports stories that I've witnessed from start to finish.

But he's not the greatest shortstop of all time, nor is he the most "blingy" shortstop even in Yankees history. Jeter's 5 World Series' rings make for a pretty crowded jewelry box but former Yankee shortstop Phil Rizzuto won 7 in the Bronx.

When discussing Jeter's all time greatness there will be a discussion. Guys like Rizzuto and certainly Honus Wagner will be brought up, and some of the argument against Jeter as SS GOAT is overwhelming and hard to ignore. Matter of fact nobody even tries arguing Jeter as the greatest SS of all time, or the greatest Yankee of all time, or the winningest Yankee of all time, or the winningest SS of all time...

Yet undisputedly, Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer of all time.



Unanimous.


The issue for Rivera isn't his performance; it's his role. He isn't necessarily the best pitcher of all time, or even the best reliever of all time. He's the best one-inning closer - a very specialized role that has only existed for about 25 years.

The pitcher with the most saves currently eligible for the HOF is Lee Smith, who had about 25% more saves than anyone else when he retired. Smith is not in the HOF. In fact, no player who has played exclusively as a one-inning closer is in the HOF. There are those who believe that the position is too specialized to merit inclusion. Like for those who play DH, there could be those who fail to vote for Mo merely because they don't respect the role he has played.

No such issue exists for Jeter. SS is one of the premier positions in the league. Jeter already holds the record for most hits as a SS. By the end of this season, he could easily be 5th or 6th on the all-time hits list. He already averages more hits per season than any other player in the 3,000 Club. In an era where so many of our heroes cheated, Jeter has played the game the way it was intended. Voters will line up to vote Jeter into the HOF.


There's no doubt that a shortstop plays a more constant role than a closer. Doesn't mean that the shortstop's role is BIGGER, however.

For one thing, Jeter's records for SS are nice but not amazing. Shortstop has traditionally been an offensive Bermuda Triangle. Sure, there was a couple-year-long streak which saw Nomar and A-Rod put up some big numers, but A)it was because of the juice, and B)those days are long gone. Who's baseball's top offensive SS? Tulo? Reyes? Shortstop is NOT a power position for offense and Jeter's achievements, while certainly respectable, aren't as significant as if they had come from another position.

Especially when you consider how bad Jeter was/is defensively... no range whatsoever.

Therein lies the rub. Mo had NO flaws. You CANNOT pick at his game.

Regardless of how much more time Jeter spent booting balls at SS than Mo did striking out hitters with game tying runs on base, it doesn't diminish Rivera's overall excellence.

Rivera had no shortcomings and he is clearly the positional GOAT.

Jeter had several shortcomings and is NOT the positional GOAT.

You're choosing Jeter's QUANTITY of innings; I'll keep Mo's QUALITY of innings.


Merely being the best at your position is not an automatic bid into the HOF. Edgar Martinez is the consensus GOAT as a DH - he's not in. Ray Guy is the consensus GOAT as a punter - he's not in. The HOFs in the various sports recognize the best players in their sports, but not necessarily by position. Yes, Mo is the best modern closer in the 25 year history of the position, but it's still a very limited role. It's generally better to great in a broad role than greatest in a limited one.

Much of HOF voting is about politics. No one got in last time because of politics around the steroid era. Mo won't get a unanimous vote because there are those who hate that closers are rewarded for just getting the last three outs in a game - rightly or wrongly.

Jeter should get a unanimous vote because there's no reason not to vote for him. He's the most prolific-hitting shortstop in history. He's the face of an iconic franchise. His defense, while not stellar, was adequate. People will vote for him for him because he is one of the guys who gets pointed to as the guy who didn't cut corners. He's the guy who respected the game. The voters will respect him back.

March 10, 2013  06:46 PM ET

Great Choice MF..........And not just because I'm a Yankees fan..

March 10, 2013  07:12 PM ET

Yankee vs. Yankee. Should be an interesting debate. Good luck, MF'er.

March 10, 2013  07:26 PM ET

Willie decides to jump back in the saddle!

March 10, 2013  07:57 PM ET
QUOTE(#2):

Yankee vs. Yankee. Should be an interesting debate. Good luck, MF'er.

Thanks Willie, good luck to you as well.

Great choice, by the way.

March 10, 2013  07:57 PM ET
QUOTE(#1):

Great Choice MF..........And not just because I'm a Yankees fan..

Thanks!

March 10, 2013  08:00 PM ET

I think I was supposed to say "an" instead of "a" in the TD title.

Please forgive me, everybody.

Comment #7 has been removed
March 10, 2013  10:29 PM ET

You may win the argument, but Mo is slightly more deserving of HoF. Yes, jeter is more important to the yankees, that does not effect hall voting as fast as I know.

Comment #9 has been removed
March 11, 2013  12:45 AM ET
QUOTE(#9):

Kill yourself.

Don't you have a Brady TD to embarass yourself on?

Comment #11 has been removed
March 11, 2013  01:49 AM ET

Athlete who least deserves it: Dwight Howard

This fool, after a game tonight which included an 0-5 night at the charity stripe for Dwight, said he thinks he's ""getting a little bit better.

Now to be fair, I realize he was refering to his overall game, not just his free throws. But still.. 0-5?

March 11, 2013  02:40 AM ET
QUOTE(#12):

Athlete who least deserves it: Dwight HowardThis fool, after a game tonight which included an 0-5 night at the charity stripe for Dwight, said he thinks he's ""getting a little bit better.Now to be fair, I realize he was refering to his overall game, not just his free throws. But still.. 0-5?

I can't complain. I suffered through the Shag years, you know.

March 11, 2013  02:51 AM ET
QUOTE(#13):

I can't complain. I suffered through the Shag years, you know.

I guess that's a good point. Laker fans are used to grisly free throw shooting.

Steve Nash must wonder why he ever practiced FT's so hard after seeing what Dwight can get away with.

March 11, 2013  02:54 AM ET
QUOTE(#14):

I guess that's a good point. Laker fans are used to grisly free throw shooting.Steve Nash must wonder why he ever practiced FT's so hard after seeing what Dwight can get away with.

If Nash could generate 15 boards and 3 blocks a night, he'd be entitled to a miss or three.

March 11, 2013  03:01 AM ET
QUOTE(#15):

If Nash could generate 15 boards and 3 blocks a night, he'd be entitled to a miss or three.

I guess when you're a Lakers fan you have to be pro-Dwight. Which makes sense, because even with all his flaws he's still one of the few viable centers in the NBA. But as a non-Lakers fan it's a lot of fun to poke holes in his game, mostly because I do not at all like Dwight Howard and I'm petty enough to revel in his shortcomings.

March 11, 2013  03:02 AM ET
QUOTE(#12):

Athlete who least deserves it: Dwight HowardThis fool, after a game tonight which included an 0-5 night at the charity stripe for Dwight, said he thinks he's ""getting a little bit better.Now to be fair, I realize he was refering to his overall game, not just his free throws. But still.. 0-5?

Also, Howard's woes with the Lakers are threefold: 1st, a continuing recovery from major back surgery, which continues to show improvement. 2nd, the lack of a coach that could readily blend the immense talent on the Lakers roster. 3rd, and perhaps foremost, Kobe. Only recently has Kobe begun to show signs of sharing the spotlight with Howard. Or anyone else, for that matter.

Things are beginning to click, and Howard's FT % will be the last thing anyone worries about.

March 11, 2013  03:05 AM ET
QUOTE(#16):

I guess when you're a Lakers fan you have to be pro-Dwight. Which makes sense, because even with all his flaws he's still one of the few viable centers in the NBA. But as a non-Lakers fan it's a lot of fun to poke holes in his game, mostly because I do not at all like Dwight Howard and I'm petty enough to revel in his shortcomings.

This is a true statement. I was not a fan of the Howard trade, and he is, at best, my 6th favorite Laker center at this point (jumped a notch or three lately). I really am a fan of any player wearing the purple and gold. Heck, I've even learned to appreciate MWP's game, fer cryin out loud.

March 11, 2013  03:10 AM ET
QUOTE(#17):

Also, Howard's woes with the Lakers are threefold: 1st, a continuing recovery from major back surgery, which continues to show improvement. 2nd, the lack of a coach that could readily blend the immense talent on the Lakers roster. 3rd, and perhaps foremost, Kobe. Only recently has Kobe begun to show signs of sharing the spotlight with Howard. Or anyone else, for that matter.Things are beginning to click, and Howard's FT % will be the last thing anyone worries about.

I have to say, I have been surprised that DAntoni has seemed so inept at times. I don't know how much I believe in his system itself, but I just assumed he'd be able to fit the pieces he had into his system successfully.

But that hasn't been the case, at all. Makes you wonder about his limitations as a strategist.

 
March 11, 2013  03:12 AM ET
QUOTE(#18):

This is a true statement. I was not a fan of the Howard trade, and he is, at best, my 6th favorite Laker center at this point (jumped a notch or three lately). I really am a fan of any player wearing the purple and gold. Heck, I've even learned to appreciate MWP's game, fer cryin out loud.

Artest is another guy I just cant root for. I don't even know why anymore, I'm just hardwired to laugh every time I see him miss a three point attempt by several feet.

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