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Should Raines Make the Hall?

And should Nats fans care?

While trolling around the web this morning, I came across this piece by Tim Cowlishaw of the Dallas Morning News.

The debate about Raines and the Hall is a good one -- although the stats Cowlishaw uses are just flat out wrong, which quickly negates his argument. But I also do wonder about the Expos and their place in Nats history.

I understand that folks here would rather adopt the history of the much-maligned and much-beloved Senators, but I wonder where that leaves the poor Expos. Should Nats fans pull for Raines to get in? Or should the Expos become an asterisk in the record books?

By Tracee Hamilton  |  January 9, 2009; 9:35 AM ET
 
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Comments

I really do not mean to sound disrespectful towards our Canadian brothers, especially the few die-hards who really did care and were heartbroken over the relocation. But, I just do not care about Montreal Expos history, records, etc.

Posted by: DoctorJoe | January 9, 2009 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Who cares about Raines? I'm a big Nats fan and don't consider the Expos to have anything to do with the Nats. I want the Senators records or just the Nats. No Expos.

Posted by: benshles | January 9, 2009 9:45 AM | Report abuse

Personally, I'm rooting for Raines to make the Hall, and don't mind the Expos history being folded in.

Posted by: Brian_ | January 9, 2009 9:49 AM | Report abuse

I care about all Washington baseball, and all baseball that Washington baseball came from, so that means I favor preserving all these histories - the old Senators, the new Senators, the Nats, the Expos, and the Grays.

Also, I don't mind if others want to claim the same teams, as I don't see this as exclusive. Last summer the Rangers were playing a "retro" game in Senators uniforms, and I favor more of this. In a few years we may want to play a retro game in Expos gear, and we already do honor the Grays this way.

Posted by: Traveler8 | January 9, 2009 9:53 AM | Report abuse

If not for the Montreal Expos, there would be no Washington Nationals.

We are who we are.

I don't think it matters whether we want to consider the Expos part of the history or not - the ARE part of the Nats history. So what if they were a last place team, so were the Senators.

The Expos produced more major league talent than any Washington franchise, so I say we accept who they (the Nats) were and celebrate the franchise's history, as well as the town's. If MLB hadn't screwed us out of all the Expo prospects, the Nats would be playoff contenders.

I hope Raines and Dawson both make it into the Hall. Vive le Expos!

Posted by: sec307 | January 9, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Definitely, Raines is a HOF. He was the NL eqivalent of Rickey Henderson during the 80s abd was the league's most feared leadoff hitter because of his gap power and speed. I have an indelible remembrance of how good Raines was. On May 2, 1987 at Shea Stadium in an 11-7 win over the Mets, Raines went four-for-five, scored three runs, drove in four on a grand slam and stole a base. What was all the more remarkable was that it was his first game of the year after having to come back to the Expos because of free-agency collusion. BTW - the winning pitchr for Montreal that day was some kid named St. Claire. Whatever happened to him?

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 9, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

newposted

It is interesting to go back and read a Boswell column from 2 years ago, when Kasten said that the '07 Nats were then "way ahead" of the Braves at the big-league level when he took the reins in Atlanta. Here is the link:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/02/12/AR2007021201463.html

Why did Kasten say that the Nats were way ahead? Because of the "core" of players that the Nats already had in the fold. And who were those guys, you might ask: Ryan Zimmerman, Chad Cordero, Nick Johnson, John Patterson, Austin Kearns, Felipe Lopez and Brian Schneider. Enough said. At the big league level, the team is treading water, at best.

And what about at the minor league level? Yes, the Nats no longer have the worst minor league system in baseball. But their top prospects are *extremely* young, and according to most rankings, none of their top prospects are among the best in the game--which is what the Nats need in order to turn things around. Kasten said in that column that the Nats were going to go "100 mph to catch up" on the minor league level. Whether they've even tried to do that or not is debatable, but the fact is that it hasn't worked out that way.

When plans aren't working out, it's time to revisit the plan. No one is advocating signing a free agent or two because we think it will turn the Nats into a winner. People are saying that the Nats should bring in some free agents to start turning the team around the corner of respectability at the big league level, as a component of the plan. The prospects--and again, objective observers are saying that those prospects are not that spectacular--are still years away. The team simply cannot afford to wait that long.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 9, 2009 10:04 AM

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 9, 2009 10:11 AM | Report abuse

Me, I don't think much about our franchise's Canadian past. But from some of the commenters here, we can see that there are people who followed the team across the border. And having franchise records gives a nice context, for now.

(And Tim Raines is a no-brainer for the Hall, say I.)

Posted by: Scooter_ | January 9, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Ricky feels that Ricky should be inducted into the HOF alone in 2009. Ricky is afterall "... the greatest player of all time..."

I am not a fan of Ricky Hendrson, but he was a great ball player. The HOF is for the best of the best. Not above average players that some feel should be in the HOF.

As for the Expos history, we are stuck with it. Just like the Orioles are the the St. Louis Browns or A's with philly and KC. The connection with Motreal will go away over time.

Posted by: Batboy05 | January 9, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

I'm one hundred percent with Traveler on this one.

natsbisquit, I think I was responding to CiL saying something similar, specifically. Besides, I'm aiming at the argument, not anyone specifically. Your response reminded me of one of my favorite economic statistics quips.

You said: "(And yes I stand corrected - there was s 2 game uptick in 2007 - but please lay that out on a 4 year graph and see how that record looks. Its a steady decline.)"

Of course, I am thinking of, "In the long run, we're all dead."

Seriously, though, the organizational decline you see over the last four years is the decline of the Montreal Expos as built up by MLB in order to garner a higher price tag. It's well documented around here that MLB stripped the farm system and major league team in order to contract it, but when contraction became impossible, they switched gears and cut every corner to put together a flashy product. The result was unsustainable, but intoxicating.

I'm sure you all remember.

The trend line shows the collapse of that team. This team is still at High-A and AA.

Posted by: Section506 | January 9, 2009 10:13 AM | Report abuse

"When plans aren't working out, it's time to revisit the plan."

Your whole post is a well-made point, CiL, and the above quotation is the best part of it.

But I must point out, you can't evaluate a long-term plan based on the first tiny percentage of it.

You gotta figure, with every draft maybe only one or two of a team's picks ever turn into real prospects. The Nats have had two drafts under their ideal draft regime. It needs more time to be evaluated properly, otherwise it's just a knee-jerk reaction.

Posted by: Section506 | January 9, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

@Batboy05

The Orioles do not embrace the Browns' franchise records. There has been a conscious effort to separate the St. Louis era from the Baltimore era. For example, in 1994 the Orioles never acknowledged that it was the 50th anniversary of the Browns only pennant winning season. For all intents and purposes, the Browns disappeared after the final game of 1953 and the Orioles began on Opening Day 1954,

Posted by: leetee1955 | January 9, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Again, a well reasoned response from Traveler. I echo those sentiments.

If anyone understands what it is like to lose a franchise, it is Washington fans. It seems callous to me, then, to write off an Expos team that, like the Senators, left behind devoted and crushed fans.

And really, the plight of the Expos is the plight of the Nationals. The uphill battle being fought to achieve respectability was necessitated by the league ownership of the Montreal franchise. The Expos are a part of this team, whether we like it or not.

If nothing else, we should remember the Expos because we are diligent baseball fans - so we can point to the travesty of 1994, the MLB ownership years, and the San Juan home games and say, "Never again."

I look forward to the day the Nats wear Montreal throwback jerseys. However, I am patient enough to wait for Washington to reestablish its own baseball identity first.

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 9, 2009 10:19 AM | Report abuse

Yes and Yes. Raines should make the Hall, and Baseball fans everywhere should care. The history of the pre-move Nationals is largely irrelevant to the Nationals fans, but players like Dawson and Raines are deserving of the Hall and since no baseball writers who covered the team in Montreal are still voting (and the Post's flawed policy against participating further damages their chances), someone has to care.

Posted by: natbisquit | January 9, 2009 10:21 AM | Report abuse

Wow, is that a John Maynard Keynes reference?

Washington fans, man.

-----

Of course, I am thinking of, "In the long run, we're all dead."

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 9, 2009 10:24 AM | Report abuse

506, I don't have time to go through the archives right now, and I'm unfortunately going to be off-line after this post. But the time horizons that are being discussed now are much longer than the time horizons that were discussed a couple years ago. Read the Boswell column, and you see why the plan is not working out as contemplated then.

Oh, and I don't think I ever said that the Nats have had 4 declining years. I think I was making a comment in response to your assertion that the Nats have had "one bad season." I asked how 90-loss seasons are not bad ones.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | January 9, 2009 10:26 AM | Report abuse

Let's take the Expos legacy, split it in two, and then drop it off in Minnesota and Texas. We have our own history that goes back to 1901. If you would have asked the late Mickey Vernon who he played for and who he managed, he would tell you straight up that it was "the Washington" organization.

Posted by: 6thandD | January 9, 2009 10:42 AM | Report abuse

I loved Rock when I was a kid and absolutely think he should be in the Hall. The NL's Rickey is a great comparison.

Posted by: WrongDog | January 9, 2009 10:43 AM | Report abuse

Another question: if Raines does make the HOF, should the Nats publicly recognize him?

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 9, 2009 10:47 AM | Report abuse

Another question: if Raines does make the HOF, should the Nats publicly recognize him?

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 9, 2009 10:47 AM

Of course!

Posted by: Traveler8 | January 9, 2009 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I was stung by an earlier post that could have been interpreted that I was contributing to doom and gloom. I want to reaffirm my positive outlook. I am for signing Hudson, Dunn, and Wolf, but I understand that fiscal restraint and type A classification needs to be part of the decision making. I am for The Plan, but believe deviations to and evolution of the plan need to be made. I see clear progress in the pool of talent on the team, but equally clear decline in on field performance. I see short term pain as a path to long term gain. I see areas of strength (e.g., farm system development, coaching talent) and areas for improvement (e.g., depth chart, run production, and game management). I see investment that has not yet generated a reutrn, but I see progress.

Posted by: natbisquit | January 9, 2009 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Firstly, Raines should be a lock for the hall of fame. He was an amazing energizing force for the Expos.

Also, I understand Nat's fans not caring about the Expos, but recognising where this franchise can from is just good manners. I make multiple pilgrimages south just to see the Nat's, as do a lot of Expos fans. There are still a lot of fans of the Expos who love this team. And for all that Expos fans, those of us that weren't driven off by the strike, were very dedicated an knowledgeable bunch. Random example: Jeeves

Lastly, when Stan talked about how much further on the Nationals were than the Braves he was factoring in the Bowden thought that Kearns, Lopez would become better, Cordero would not regress, Zimmerman would progress faster, and that Johnson and Patterson could stay healthy. CiL, there may have been the appearance of a team but, of the guys you listed only one is a servicable major leaguer, so it's tough to say that we regressed from a core that had Kearns/Lopez/Zimm and bunch of busted guys.

Posted by: soundbloke | January 9, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Through my job, I have come to know a number of Montreal residents who were very upset over the loss of the Expos. I still mourn the loss of "my team," the Senators and have met plenty of embittered Brooklyn Dodger and New York Giants fans.. .and even a couple pissed off Seattle Pilots fans.

I don't really care about the Expos, but the great players and great characters from Tim Raines to Rusty Staub who played for the team and their fans deserve to be honored.

The fact that the Orioles have buried the Browns always struck me as mean-spirited and wrong. George Sisler was a great player, yet he gets almost no mention in discussions of baseball history. The Orioles should honor him and other past Browns, especially Bill Veeck and the best known Brown of all, Eddie Gaedel.

Sec314

Posted by: arlingtontwb | January 9, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

Yes, he should be in the Hall. No, Nationals fans should not care. Just like the good fans in Minneapolis should keep their hands off Walter Johnson, Tim Raines belongs to Montreal.

After all, haven't all the retired Expo numbers (including Raines's) been put into circulation with the Nats?

Posted by: Tank2 | January 9, 2009 11:08 AM | Report abuse

First, as some have already suggested, I think that "drawing the line" is a perfectly appropriate thing for the Nats to do at this point if in fact Dunn and Hudson have misjudged the market and are asking for more years and dollars than comparable signees. It doesn't necessarily mean we're not going to sign any free agents, it just sends a signal that we're not going to overpay.

Second, I would prefer not to sign Dunn anyway, he's a minus defender and some have publicly questioned his attitude. If we're going to sign a big ticket free agent, we have to get the right guy (and Teixeira was that guy this year). It's ridiculous to argue that our pursuit of him was insincere and all for show. The facts simply do not support this view.

Third, I'm not interested in rooting for a team cobbled together by signing flawed overpriced free agents. I am interested in watching a young team develop, even if it means a few more losing seasons. When we have a contender here, I want it to be "our team," not a collection of castoffs from other organizations.

Having said all of that, I do think CiL has a point about regression, which I have previously labeled "Plan Creep." The Plan relies on acquiring young talent, and young talent often does not pan out (or should I say Plan out?). We've been unlucky so far and the result is that the arrival of our contender now looks more like 2012 than 2010. But there are, indeed, reasons to be optimistic, and hopeful.

Baseball America has a Nat-focused chat here, which requires a subscription (but avid NJ readers should get one):

http://www.baseballamerica.com/online/prospects/rankings/organization-top-10-prospects/2009/267405.html

A teaser from that chat:

Q: Al from DC asks:
Hicks, Higley, Hood, Atwood, Ramirez, Nieto - the Nats didn't sign Crow but seems like they had a pretty good draft overall. Hope for the Nats fans?

A: Aaron Fitt: There is indeed reason for hope — that's a pretty good group of players. If you put Crow at the front of it, you might be looking at a top-five draft, and certainly at least top 10. As it is, they got good value in the later rounds with some of the players you mentioned, and they just might have salvaged that draft despite bungling the top pick pretty badly. Of course, all of that might be forgotten when Stephen Strasburg is blowing away big league hitters at Nationals Park in 2010...

Posted by: BobLHead | January 9, 2009 11:09 AM | Report abuse

The only reason I am a Nationals fan is because I was an Expos fan for so many years. When the team left town -- a feeling you DC long-timers should remember -- I had a choice to make: either cut ties with the organization altogether and hop on an existing bandwagon, like the Red Sox or the Angels; or, stay with the club and the players as they moved to Washington, a city I loved after going to college there.
I am of the opinion that a true fan doesn't choose his or her team, but is instead chosen by that team. So needless to say, my curly W hats were in the mail as soon as they were available.
I probably care as little about the two prior incarnations of the Senators as most of you claim to about the Expos, but I am also aware of the place history holds in baseball and absolutely welcome and enjoy tie-ins to Washington's former baseball life. What would please me most is a once- a-year Expos throwback tribute day, so we can see the red, white and blue beanies in action again -- how about on Canada Day, July 1? It would be a shame for 36 seasons of baseball to be wiped off the map as if they never happened.

Posted by: mjhoya12 | January 9, 2009 11:22 AM | Report abuse

Ditto what Traveler (and others) said:

"I care about all Washington baseball, and all baseball that Washington baseball came from, so that means I favor preserving all these histories - the old Senators, the new Senators, the Nats, the Expos, and the Grays."

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 9, 2009 11:35 AM | Report abuse

Also, for the record, I'm all for preserving the links to the Expos, that's our history, like it or not, and it's only fair to former Expos fans, all of whom should be welcomed here.

As for the Senators and the Grays, we're inextricably linked to those teams as well simply because we're in DC. So I'm with Traveler, too.

Posted by: BobLHead | January 9, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Thank-you BobLHead

Posted by: soundbloke | January 9, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

A baseball fans, Nats fans should care about the right guys getting into the Hall (Raines, to me, is a right guy). But I don't think it's realistic to expect most of us to give a crap about the Expos in specific, especially after the official organ of MLB named Gary Carter the best player in Nationals history, a guy virtually none of the Washingtonian fanbase can relate to.

Posted by: shekb | January 9, 2009 11:53 AM | Report abuse

Nats history should be congruent with DC baseball history,
including Sens/Nats I, Sens II, Grays and current Nats. Expos history should stay in Montreal to be picked up by a future Montreal baseball franchise, be it in the majors or at another level. The 1924 World Series Banner should be permanently fixed to the Shirley Povich Media Center.

That being said, I will still root for Raines to make the hall...

Posted by: andreekless | January 9, 2009 12:07 PM | Report abuse

...the Nats have not honored Expos retired numbers... WJ and Hondo should have retired numbers next to 42 in the outfield...

Posted by: andreekless | January 9, 2009 12:12 PM | Report abuse

Baseball traditions are local, not franchise-based. Witness the Nats Park statues of Johnson, Gibson and Howard.

And as a native of this area, I didn't follow the Senators once they moved to Texas; I started going to Orioles games.

The Expos legacy probably is best suited for when the Nats play in Toronto. Donning the Expos jerseys while playing in Canada might appeal to some Expos fans.

Posted by: AshburnVA | January 9, 2009 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Finally, yes Tim Raines belongs in the Hall. Some have compared him to Ricky Henderson, but the better comparison is actually to Lou Brock. Lou had 3000 hits and skated in as a result, rightfully so. Raines only has 2605 hits and gets unfairly disregarded as a result. But his 1330 walks make his overall batting lines as good or better than Brock's. Raines' career averages are .294/.385/.425; Brock's are .293/.343/.410. Neither was a power hitter, but Raines clubbed a respectable 170 HRs to Brock's 149. Both were prolific base stealers; Brock stole 938, Raines 808 (they rank second and fourth all-time in this category, which Rickey leads by a wide margin with 1406 SBs; third place is occupied by none other than Ty Cobb, with 892). Also, for the record, Brock and Raines played in a roughly comparable number of games (2616 and 2502, respectively). Both were six-time all-stars. Both finished in the top 20 in MVP voting seven times. Finally, I am cognizant of the dangers of arguing that a player belongs in the Hall solely on the grounds that his stats are better than one other specific player that's already in, so I'll throw out one more stat: Raines' career OPS+ is 123. For comparison, others in that neighborhood include Kirby Puckett (124), Paul Molitor (122), Ernie Banks (122), and of course, Rickey Henderson (127). That's good company, and ahead of the likes of Ryne Sandberg (114), Cal Ripken (112), and, to close the loop, Lou Brock (109).

Posted by: BobLHead | January 9, 2009 12:26 PM | Report abuse

what stats in the Cowlishaw column are wrong?

Posted by: daysleeper1983 | January 9, 2009 2:08 PM | Report abuse

Well said, Bobble. Even if he did make up his own nickname.

Posted by: CEvansJr | January 9, 2009 2:57 PM | Report abuse

1. Raines was a very good player but by Sabermetric standards, he is not HOF.

2. Despite the game in Texas with the retro uniforms, I bet you could count on one hand the number of Ranger fans who care about that teams' years in DC; ditto for Twins fans, although they may like to claim The Big Train (and the movie "Little Big League'' certainly played homage to the DC past). Anyway, I'm sorry for the Expos fans' loss, but I went through it twice. DC baseball history is about Nationals/aka Senators I, Senators II and the new Nationals (and yes, the Homestead Grays.)

Posted by: nats24 | January 9, 2009 3:16 PM | Report abuse

The incorrect stats have been edited out since this morning. As I recall, he had Raines leading the NL in walks from 1982-1988, and also leading the NL in singles, doubles and triples during that time. Whoa!

Posted by: traceeh | January 9, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Jeeves, mjhoya12, natscan (if you're still out there), soundbloke, and others (a hedge in case I inadvertently left someone out): thank you for sharing your Expos memories and experiences with us. In my opinion this blog is made the richer by your participation.

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | January 9, 2009 4:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure nobody's looking here, because there's a new post (you knew about that, right?), but the idea of wearing Expos gear on Canada Day is inspired.

(And I'm one of the gents who said he doesn't really think twice about the Expos.)

Posted by: Scooter_ | January 9, 2009 4:47 PM | Report abuse

Rock should be in. As far as the history of the org goes I'm an Expos turned Nats fan because of MLB taking ownership. Had the strike not happened in 94 the Expos would likely have stayed in Montreal. We had fans and plenty of them. But to be thisclose to something and have it taken away from you killed all the love. The fans who showed up afterwards were die-hards. I'm hoping Washington based Nats fan accept the past of what really was a pretty good franchise in regards to player development, scouting, etc.

Posted by: NatsExpos | January 9, 2009 9:31 PM | Report abuse

Little late to the game, but that .385 career OBP makes me salivate. Or else it was the NY strip and the Pilsener Urquell. Rock is a respectable candidate. Rock, Rice, and Rickey!

Canada Day throw backs makes so much sense for this team, as does does a game or series v. the Blue Jays in Toronto and a NYM series in NY. Easy travel distance.

Posted by: jca-CrystalCity | January 9, 2009 10:03 PM | Report abuse

sec 307 has it right. washington should celebrate an amalgamated tradition consisting of both senators teams plus the expos. expos don't belong to anybody, so we got 'em, and senators sure don't belong to texas or minnesota.

Posted by: natty-bumppo | January 10, 2009 8:32 AM | Report abuse

DC fans should not care a fig about the Expos. How many Borioles fans have an interest in the St. Louis Browns? Do Twins or Rangers fans care about the old Senators? We have our baseball history here in DC that needs to be celebrated and taught. The Expos belong to Montreal and Canada. Leave them their history, we have ours.

Posted by: MarcJMilzman | January 10, 2009 9:14 AM | Report abuse

I lived in Upstate NY for many years and Montreal and Toronto were the closest MLB teams to me. I had a couple of opportunities to see the Expos play in Montreal, and I saw the Jays on numerous occasions.

Whatever problems the Expos had in their final years in Montreal, there was a time when Montreal was a better baseball town than, frankly, DC will ever be. I vividly remember a game there in the early 80s during a transit strike. Just the same, there were 52,000 in the stands, and the atmosphere was electric. It was not uncommon back then for the Expos to draw crowds of over 50,000. When has that EVER happened in DC?

I may well be that Montreal will never return to MLB (although Seattle, Milwaukee, Washington and Kansas City have done so after losing their original teams). On the other hand, if there were dedicated local ownership, cooperative government, and a new facility, baseball could once again flourish in Montreal.

In any event, the Nationals should take pride in their Expo heritage. Those folks really knew how to develop talent through their farm system.

Posted by: TucsonDave | January 10, 2009 5:32 PM | Report abuse

Hey Chico,

I think we have another debate on records here and which history we should follow. This has been long debated including myself. Did you all know that in the Hall of Fame, they have a "locker" of every team in MLB and a black card which lists history. On the last line under championships, it lists NONE while the Twins claim 1924 World Series as theirs?!

As for the Expos being in the Hall, I believe Gary Carter went in with an Expos cap on his plaque!

Posted by: CALSGR8 | January 13, 2009 10:28 AM | Report abuse

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