First of all I should confess to being a lifelong Dale Murphy fan. Like so many others, I grew up watching him run down fly balls and give his all every single night on TBS. He was a great ballplayer and is still a great man. I doubt there is anyone anywhere that doesn’t at least wish Murphy would be elected into the Hall of Fame. Unfortunately all kinds of what ifs and questions about questions take charge of the voting. Let’s make it a little simpler.
His two MVP’s and the stats he put up for his time has been spoken about and honestly speak for themselves. He was one of the best players in MLB throughout his career even when it meant playing for some of the worst teams in baseball. He went out every night and gave his best effort and it was a great effort. Clutch hitting, great plays, you name it. Those kids who grew up knowing that Chipper Jones would deliver in the clutch would have loved Dale Murphy. That is the kind of player he was.
If you needed a great catch, he would make it. If you needed a base hit, he was your guy. If it took a long ball, he was nearly the only option on his team other than Bob Horner for a few years. He was the man for his team for his entire career. Make no mistake, he belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame and anyone who votes against him based on numbers should be ashamed of himself or herself.
In saying that Murphy should get in even if his numbers don’t measure up to some players, the point is to look at the kind of player he was. Just because he might not have hit a few hundred more homeruns doesn’t mean he isn’t a Hall of Fame quality player. So what if he didn’t hit nine hundred homeruns. He was a hall of fame player, period, no matter where exactly his final numbers rank. What some fail to see however, is that the flip side of that is also true for one Barry Bonds.
It’s an interesting comparison because for Bonds, the numbers aren’t even a question. They are laughably awesome and so inflated beyond the supposed Hall of Fame “line” that it barely warrants conversation. For him the problem is of course, the question of performance enhancing drugs. PEDs change everything for Bonds but should it really? The answer is no and I’ll explain why.
Just like with Dale Murphy, we should consider the numbers but also look at the kind of ballplayer he was as a whole. He gave his best effort most of the time. He was one of the most feared hitters of any time in history. I remember watching Bonds when he could still be a part of the 40-40 club with 40 homers and 40 stolen bases. He was much thinner then than he was in the huge power years. Can we really say, even if he was on PEDs at the end of his career that he was then? He probably wasn’t. Here is why that is important.
If you take the last five seasons off of Bonds’ career and throw them away, what happens? His numbers would be less for sure, but would it change the kind of player he was? No! If I say that Bonds doesn’t deserve to be in the Hall of Fame just because of the last few years of mistakes then how can I ask voters to get passed the numbers problem with Murphy? They are two very different sides to the same coin. Barry Bonds, I believe made mistakes at the end of his career. It’s clear that things suddenly began jumping in the homeruns category about the time that his body began to balloon out.
So what? The man was a Hall of Fame quality player, period. Just like Dale Murphy, he belongs in the Baseball Hall of Fame regardless of the few things he did that might keep him out, or in Murphy’s case the few things he might not have done that might keep him out. It’s not a personality contest; it’s the Hall of Fame. No matter what your thoughts of either man’s shortcomings, both belong in the Hall of Fame. Put them on different wings if you want, but for the sake of what they both accomplished in the game, put them both in.