I swear I’m going to get up the latest Bizarre Baseball Culture soon, but today has brought two major news stories:
A) Joe Torre, Tony La Russa and Bobby Cox have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame by the Veterans’ Committee. Marvin Miller wasn’t, but that’s another story.
B) Roy Halladay, the Doctor, has announced his retirement, signing a one-day deal with Toronto to end his career as a Blue Jay.
So, for those keeping score, that means perhaps the three greatest managers of the past 30 years are now in the Hall of Fame, and perhaps the best pitcher of the last 10 or 11 years has retired.
It’s an interesting contrast when you look at it, because while almost everyone expected the three managers to get in the Hall of Fame, it’s unlikely many people expected Roy Halladay would have gone out with such a whimper. Injuries and the cruelty that comes with growing old led to his sharp decline in 2012 and 2013, while the Phillies lack of hitting and the sheer randomness of October left him without a World Series ring.
It’s a stretch to compare Halladay to Sandy Koufax, but there are some similarities, as both came to the big leagues young, with their first few years being rocky as their raw talent was often unable to make up for inexperience. But then, something clicked, and for a span (five or so years for Koufax, ten or so years for Halladay, albeit with a blip in 2004 when he was hurt) they became the best pitchers of their generations. Then, however, injuries forced them into premature retirements (Koufax at only 30, while Halladay at 36 after two years of decline that Koufax never had).
Another thing they will have in common? The Hall of Fame. Matthew Pouliot over at HardballTalk has a good summing up of why, but it essentially comes down to how good he was over that 10-year span, as well as the fact that, for his era, he was an exceptional pitcher, for example throwing almost double the amount of complete games as the next pitcher who remains active.