A Dodgers/Padres Email For Trevor

A Dodgers/Padres Email For Trevor

It’s been a fun week celebrating Trevor Hoffman. I wrote a piece last week discussing my feelings with things still up in the air on whether he was going to get in this year. Now that it’s a done deal I decided to reach out to my Dodgers fan friend and TKF Contributor Q. We emailed back and forth hashing out our feelings. Q lives in Texas but grew up in LA.

NICHOLAS MCCANN

Dear Q,

In San Diego we’re feeling a big sigh of relief. Trevor is in the Hall of Fame and nobody can do anything about it. Not that you would try, but as a Dodgers fan you can’t hurt me on this one.

Back in 2000, you, along with five other friends and I started a fantasy baseball league at a house near Occidental College that we still have today. Trevor Hoffman was the first pick overall in that draft. Sure, it was a bold move by our mutual friend Joe who was “trying something”, but it does feel like it made more sense back then when closers were taken more seriously.

What does Trevor Hoffman mean to you? Do you feel he and other closers are worthy of this recognition?

Nick

Q

Dear Nick,

Glad you have something to smile about. My World Series grief has not abated–it’s actually gotten worse as time goes by. When they first lost, I was sort of numb. Then, I thought, “Well, they’re still good, they’ll be back.” Then, after having extra time to think about it, I realized that almost every team that loses the World Series thinks they’ll be right back in it. And NOW I’m imagining 30 years from now, when I’m facing my 70th birthday instead of my 40th, telling my bored-as-hell grandkids about the last time we were in the Series.

BUT ENOUGH ABOUT ME! I am absolutely in the camp that Trevor deserves to be in. I generally lean stathead–and I understand how it can be frustrating that someone who deserves to be in (Mussina & Edgar unquestionably, Bonds & Clemens for me, but I get it) doesn’t make it year after year. But it’s not called the Hall of WAR and Trevor Hoffman’s FAME is well-earned.

Hoffman was an elite closer for so long in probably the most volatile position, where half the guys flame out in 18 months. And, while he wasn’t the first closer to walk out WWE style, he was the first guy that made it MANDATORY to be considered worthy of the “closer” monicker Easily the most exciting 2 sounds I’ve heard as a Dodger fan in the last 20 years are the opening notes to “Welcome to the Jungle” for Eric Gagne and “California Love” for Kenley Jansen; so much, in fact, that if I’m at the game and the Dodgers are up by 4 runs or more, I want the other team to come back so it’s a save situation, even at the risk of losing the game.

There’s a great chance I don’t experience that at all if “Hells Bells” never happens.

NICHOLAS MCCANN

The closer debate is so strange. I don’t think it’s smart to chase and spend for a closer in today’s game, but people that are railing against Hoffman getting in seem to be using him to dismiss that ideology and the era for which it emerged. These people act the Hall of Fame is drunk with closer love. It’s just not the case. To me the Hall of Fame should recognize the greats while telling the story of the game. Trevor’s position was valued locally and nationally with in the context of his era. He’s in, Mariano Rivera will get in, and if Billy Wagner gets in it won’t be this crime against the sport.

I’m glad you brought of Jensen. I think if he maintains this run he’s on, he should get in. If it’s him and maybe Aroldis Chapman from this current era, is that a problem? I don’t think so.

Q

I agree that the debate and the fervor to which Keith Law (who I generally like, but has gotten famous for being snarky for good and/or ill) and others are adamant about Hoffman’s exclusion is strange for two main reasons.

First, one of the main goals of Sabermetrics is to give the player credit for what he can control and disregard circumstantial achievements. Home runs, walks, and steals are within a batter’s control, whereas runs and RBI are not. So, cool, and I’m down with that.

Shouldn’t that same logic be applied to players’ roles as well? So, now we are figuring out that the best relievers should be used in the highest leverage situations, which may not be none on in the 9th. How do we know that Trevor would not have been great at that, too? In what way are closers responsible for the ways in which they are used? Trevor Hoffman pitched in the big leagues for 18 seasons and 15 of those were great seasons. His rookie year he was just ok, he missed 2003 due to injury, and his last season the wheels came off. 15 out of 18 great seasons where you excel at what you’re being asked to do is Hall of Fame worthy.

Second, I just don’t understand why you would want to keep a guy out of the HOF. Should other guys get in before him? Maybe. Is it asinine that writers can only vote for 10 players and are a large portion of those writers chuckleheads? Without a doubt. But hating on a guy for successfully pitching for 18 seasons at arguably the peak of the steroid era is a poor use of energy. Mo was better than Trevor and he’ll get in for sure. Wagner might have been better at his peak but didn’t quite have Hoffman’s longevity or signature style, so we’ll see.

Current day……I actually think the only guy with the best chance is probably Craig Kimbrel. I guess things could change, but he’s been elite or near elite for seven consecutive seasons. I certainly hope Kenley does that, but he hasn’t yet. And Chapman…..well……if you can hold a guy out because of steroids, you could certainly hold a guy out who was suspended for domestic violence, I’d say.

Here’s a question for you–is the next Padre Hall of Famer currently in the organization?

NICHOLAS MCCANN

It’s hard to say. I want Manuel Margot have a long career of high production. Could he reach the heights of Kenny Lofton and have a longer prime? I want it to happen. The idea of what Fernando Tatis Jr. could be seems to be carrying most people around here, but he can’t buy a beer in America yet. Mackenzie Gore looks to have all the make up of a kid who will have a good long career but he just went to prom.

The relief I feel of not having to be involved in the hall of fame discussion is really palpable. Trevor and Tony were my guys and they’re in. I probably won’t NEED any other Padre to get in during my lifetime and there’s real peace that comes with that.

Last night we recorded the podcast with guests Dave Palet and Jeff Dotseth and they brought up the fact that LA hasn’t had a guy go in as a Dodger since Don Sutton. I couldn’t believe that. Now if Clayton Kershaw isn’t a first ballot hall of famer I might explode myself. But who else do you see going in? I think if Jensen puts together a few more masterful postseason moments he could definitely get in.

Q

I was so stunned about the Sutton thing that I didn’t believe it. Of course, it’s absolutely true.

Kershaw, assuming he avoids injury, is a lock. Then who knows? Jansen has to dominate for a long time to be considered. If Bellinger hits 40 HRs every year for 15 years, he’s in, but it’s silly to predict that after one season. I don’t think Seager will ever be super elite, but if he’s a compiler for 20 years, maybe.

Puig?

Nah.

I guess the Dodger “heroes” of my lifetime were mostly high peak guys (Fernando, Hershiser) who weren’t good for long enough. I do think that impact should be measured more. Not more than stats, per se, but Fernandomania was insane in creating a Latin fan base. Hershiser’s shutout streak may never be broken. But maybe you just get a display case in the East wing and no plaque for that.

Anyway, I’m happy for you. Pure sports joy is rare. The silver lining of being long suffering is not taking this for granted.

NICHOLAS

Personally, even though I sports hate him, Kershaw never has to pitch again and he’s first ballot.

Yeah, this HOF induction is a nice thing for us to focus on now while the trajectory of the franchise is still uncertain. When I see Jensen come in for the Dodgers I see him building a bond with LA that Trevor had with SD. I hate it, but it’s also familiar.

Trevor emerged from the Sheffield trade during the early 90s fire sale Padres fans suffered through. Now I feel more at peace with that than ever.

Who you got in the Pro Bowl? Don’t answer that.

See you at the draft!

 

Follow on Twitter @Nicholas_McCann and @Super_Q96

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