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Henry gets his own HOF exhibit; Rickey and Rice get plaques (maybe) ...


Next Monday is an oddity: a day in January that I always look forward to every year. It’s the day when the Hall of Fame announces the winners and losers from the annual balloting for enshrinement.

In addition, the latest installment of the Hall of Fame newsletter (good stuff) includes word that my favorite player, Henry Aaron (right), will be featured in a new exhibit opening in April. Not that Henry had been ignored by the Hall: lots of his stuff was already there, but now a bunch of it is in his own exhibit.

I won’t blog on Monday until after the 2 p.m. (EST) announcement from the HOF, an undertaking which will presumably include a proper genuflection to Rickey Henderson, the all-time stolen base king. One supposes that Henderson may well be at the podium by himself next summer, though my hope is that Jim Rice and Andre Dawson will be right alongside.

As HOF hopefuls can attest, there can be pesky gaps between hope and reality. Though I think both Rice and Dawson deserve election, the process has usually been that when two players who have been on the ballot for quite awhile (Rice 15 years, Dawson 8), it would be almost unprecedented for both to get in the same year. The BBWAA guys just don’t have the attention span for something that complicated.

For Dawson, there should be hope for the next couple of years after that, though, because there isn’t a first-ballot Hall of Famer being added to the ballot until 2013. That fascinating year will have at least three of them: Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa. I can hear all the hew-hawing from here.

I love guessing at these things. I am working hard as I approach my golden years to be more optimistic than I might have been as a younger man. The rampant pessimism helped me avoid a lot of unpleasant surprises over the years, but I still can’t recommend it as a strategic choice. I think I read somewhere that optimists live longer, or maybe just have more fun for the time that they are around.

So in that jaunty spirit I am predicting that Rickey “L’etat est Moi” Henderson will be elected, along with Jim Rice. In the case of Rickey, there will be a notable number of scribes sufficiently annoyed with his Rickeyness that they will defy common sense and the underlying charge from their ballot responsibilities and leave him off the ballot. They deserve the same scorn that should be afforded the numbskulls who felt Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Stan Musial, Joe DiMaggio and dozens of other immortals didn’t warrant election.

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