I’m going to be interviewed on this documentary I told you about a while ago — about the 1993-94 Rangers. So last night I was studying up, going over some of the things that happened that year, reading accounts of the season (re-reading my book on Mark Messier), etc.
And I got to thinking how this season is going very much like that one. I don’t think these Rangers are those Rangers by any means, and I do think that this Rangers team is still too young to be considered a favorite this early in the season, and certainly doesn’t have the offensive firepower that team had, nor, to be honest, the overall toughness and veteran leadership. I mean, that team was a win-now team, a team built over a couple of years at tremendous cost. It had one shot, took that shot, won by the slimmest of margins, and never won again.
This team is building toward that, toward being a team that will eventually have a win-now year, and maybe have several shots at the Stanley Cup.
But the similarities that struck me are in the way that team played and the way this team plays, that single-mindedness, the character of the personnel, the head-strong coaches (who are similar in temperament and psychological tactics and in outward perception of toughness). And the way this team and that team avoided losing streaks, didn’t allow a bad game to become two bad games, didn’t concern itself with the standings, and played its own way, dictating, no matter who the opponent was. The ’93-94 Rangers were on an 18-1-3 run in the middle of the season. This team, right now, is 9-1 in its last 10.
Again, not saying this team is going to win a Stanley Cup, or even be favored to win one, not to mention a Presidents’ Trophy or even a division title. Just saying, it’s not a big stretch to find some comparisons.
I know that a lot of you guys don’t give a rat’s tail about other sports, but I like to tell youse what I’m up to. Today is a big day in another sport. The Baseball Hall of Fame announces its Class of ’12. I’m a voter.
This might be the last year I vote because of the steroid/PED issue. I might change my mind over the years, but right now, I don’t think any juicer should be in the Hall of Fame. And we know who most of those are. But we also know that, starting next year, there are going to be some high-profile known users on the ballot, and also some who have certainly had rumors about drug use connected to their names.
My problem is this. If I decide I’m not going to vote for juicers, and then we (the Baseball Writers Association of America) put in a player who’s never been known to juice, and it turns out later on that he did juice, well, then what do we do? Do we go back and put Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez into the Hall?
I also have a major problem with these guys being allowed in, but Pete Rose not being allowed in. That’s a different story for another day.
So my ballot, on which you can vote for as many as 10 players, went in this year with one name checked: Don Mattingly. I know he’s not going to get in because a lot of voters think his career body of work wasn’t good enough. But when he played, in his prime, he was the best player in baseball. And there are guys in the Hall, and guys on the ballot now, who were never that. Never considered dominant, or among the top two or three players in the game at any point in their career. And I’m pretty sure Donnie Baseball didn’t juice.
So that’s how I voted. Thought you might be interested. I could be wrong.