Lee Smith is the Next Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer and Other Bullets

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Lee Smith is the Next Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer and Other Bullets

Chicago Cubs

I’m in Chicago for a few days this week for the Winter Meetings! You know, meeting with … uh … people … in the winter.

Yes, I know *THE* Winter Meetings are in Las Vegas, but I had an unrelated visit to Chicago on tap this week, so I’m just gonna act like it’s my meetings. Anyone wanna get lunch and tell me about some rumors?

Meanwhile …

  • Lee Smith is a Hall of Famer. After 15 years of trying, I never thought the big righty reliever would get there, but the special Today’s Game committee gave Smith – and long-time White Sox DH Harold Baines – enough votes for entry. Smith, in fact, was a unanimous 16 for 16 in committee votes. Former Cubs manager Lou Piniella actually fell just one vote short of enshrinement.
  • Smith was the all-time saves leader for 13 years after his retirement, and spent his first eight seasons with the Cubs. There has always been a great deal of debate about Smith’s Hall-worthiness thanks to the fact that, although he was a very good reliever for a very long time, you’re ultimately talking about only about six seasons’ worth of a starting pitcher’s innings. And no starting pitcher who posted a 3.03 career ERA over six seasons would even get more than a one minute discussion for the Hall of Fame. There’s a fair argument here.
  • … but I’m pretty agnostic on Smith going into the Hall. I think it’s fine. For one thing, as a closer, he impacted the game in a different (and meaningful way) than a starting pitcher, and doing an innings to innings comparison is not apples to apples. We know this. For another thing, there’s a historical element to the Hall of Fame, and Smith, as a transformative closer during an era when the roles at the back of the bullpen were changing, is an important historical figure in the game. He matters to the story of the evolution of the bullpen. So why not include him in the Hall of Fame?
  • And it’ll mean the Cubs have another Hall of Famer, which is dang cool:

(Photo by: Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
  • As for Harold Baines getting the call, well, sure, without the strikes during his career he probably gets to 3,000 hits, and I guess that was enough for the committee. But, as nice as it is for Baines, he probably doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame. He was a solid hitter (.289/.356/.465, 119 wRC+, 38.4 WAR) for a long time. That’s about the size of it. Also: Jim Edmonds (132 wRC+, 64.5 WAR) fell off the ballot in his first year.
  • As for Piniella:

  • The AP reports that ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball games will move up an hour next season, to 7pm ET/6pm CT. As an Eastern Time Zoner, that’s music to my ears, and it’s probably also going to be very happy news for the players, who routinely have to travel after that game.
  • Deal with it:

  • Nerds, unite: the 12 days of deals today at Amazon is electronics. So get your cool stuff here.
  • Meanwhile, a HUGE win for the Bears last night:

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Author: Brett Taylor

Brett Taylor is the Editor and Lead Cubs Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at @BleacherNation and @Brett_A_Taylor.