Thursday, March 27, 2014

Card #3: Tim Raines Highlight

Who Can It Be Now?
Tim Raines was the prototypical leadoff hitter who could steal bases, hit home runs, take a walk and get on base, and generally make the game exciting.  The fact that Raines set a record for steals in a season in 1981 with 71 is incredible because he hit that record in only 88 games.  At that pace, had he played a 150-game season, Rickey Henderson would have been chasing Raines and not Lou Brock in 1982 -- because Raines would have stolen 121 bases in those 150 games.

Pass The Dutchie
This song by Musical Youth was released in October of 1982 and hit number 10 in the US. According to the entirely-lacking-in-citations section on Wikipedia, the song was a cover of two songs -- "Gimme the Music" by U Brown and "Pass the Kouchie" by The Mighty Diamonds; this second song is a reference to passing a "cannabis pipe."  Dutchie (or Dutchy) now can refer to a blunt rolled in a Dutch Master Corona cigar.  See, the things you learn here.  Anyway, this category will refer to anyone who got caught up in the rampant drug use of the early 1980s.

Tim Raines holds an infamous record: he was the last player in Major League Baseball to have been involved with the Pittsburgh drug trials.  Raines admitted that he would carry cocaine in his back pocket so that he would not lose his stash in the locker room and, as a result, Raines made sure to always slide headfirst into bases.

The best thing about Raines being the last active player involved in those trials is that he lived -- and thrived -- for years after getting treatment and getting clean.  Others -- as we will hear the stories with later player's cards -- were not so lucky.

A Few Minutes with Tony L.
I mentioned Rickey Henderson above, and it is with Rickey Henderson that Tim Raines will forever be compared and contrasted.  They were contemporaries -- both appeared in their first major league game in 1979 (Raines at 19, Henderson at 20), both played into a fourth decade by appearing in the 2000s in games, both played left field, and both probably hung around a bit too long at the end of their respective careers (though Raines had a far better reason for doing so than Henderson did).  

The problem for Raines is that his talents were a bit more subtle than Henderson's talents were.  Raines didn't hit more than 18 homers in any one season, while Henderson hit over 20 four times.  Raines didn't steal more than 90 bases in any one season, while Henderson topped 100 three times.  Raines didn't get to play in New York until the twilight of his career, while Henderson spent his prime age 26 through 29 seasons with the Yankees.

If Raines had to be the best at his position -- whether it be leadoff or left field -- to get into the Hall of Fame, then he must resign himself to never reaching that pinnacle.

Does he belong in the Hall of Fame?  We'll talk about that another time.

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