Tim Raines is down to his last chance to make the Baseball Hall of Fame
Tim Raines was one of the best baseball players of the 1980s. He was a fan-favourite with the Montreal Expos, a seven-time all-star and one of the best leadoff hitters of all-time. He was so fast, he ranks fifth all-time in stolen bases.
But he's not in the Hall of Fame.
This is Raines' tenth and final year on the ballot. If he doesn't get in this year, he never will.
We'll find out on January 18th whether or not Tim Raines gets the call to the hall. But in the meantime, fans of "Nos Amours" are rallying behind him.
Here's his case for why Tim Raines deserves a place in Cooperstown.
Tim Raines wore 30 on his uniform most of his career
It's common to see professional athletes as the the fire-and-brimstone type — the kind to get their teammates fired-up with rousing speeches. Raines wasn't like that, he was a joker.
This was the case as a young player in Montreal, and when he joined the New York Yankees in 1996, when Raines was in his 30s and more than a decade into his major league career.
Tim Raines recorded 808 steals in his career
He was absolutely dynamic. There was a debate about whether he would break the stolen base record in his rookie year until the strike hit.
Basically, he could steal anytime he wanted to and nobody could throw him out. He was that hot.
When you consider Raines' 808, it's not just the volume — though that is impressive — but it's also the infrequency with which he got caught trying to steal.
Over his career, Raines would slide safely into second or third base 84.7 per cent of the time.
If you compare that to all the players in professional baseball history with at least 400 attempts, Tim Raines is the highest percentage base-stealer ever.
Tim Raines collected 2,605 career hits in his career
This, of course, is not 3,000; and the thing about hall of fame voters is they tend to fixate on round numbers. Five hundred home runs has long been a benchmark, and so has 3,000 hits.
But look past 2,605 career hits and look at the number of times Tim Raines reached base.
Raines reached base more times than Tony Gwynn, Lou Brock, Roberto Clemente, Mike Schmidt, Eddie Mathews, Harmon Killebrew; you could go on and on. Also, all those guys are in the hall of fame.
Once you change your mindset from hits to times on base, Tim Raines' hall of fame case becomes crystal clear.
Raines' core success happened with a team that no longer exists
Raines played 13 of his 23 seasons in Montreal and it's no secret that if Tim Raines is elected to the baseball hall of fame, there will be an Expos cap on his plaque.
We're seeing exhibition games by the Blue Jays sell out Olympic stadium. We're seeing an underground movement from local corporations who are trying to get money together to buy another team, and we're seeing lots of Expos hats.
Kids on the streets of Montreal who are too young to even remember the team are wearing Expos caps.
So rallying behind Raines' and this last chance to get into the hall of fame is just another opportunity to celebrate this defunct baseball team.
Inductees will be announced January 18
We're still a few days out, but it looks like Raines has a good shot. This is his tenth year on the ballot. If you look at how members of the the Baseball Writers' Association of America have voted in the past and compare it to this year, you can see how support for the former left-fielder is mounting.
Is this the year <a href="https://twitter.com/TimRaines30">@TimRaines30</a> gets into the <a href="https://twitter.com/baseballhall">@baseballhall</a>? <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RockTheHall?src=hash">#RockTheHall</a>—@CBCDay6
Raines has a lot of momentum ahead of Wednesday's announcement. So far, early returns indicate 25 have flipped.
Patterns show a tendency to recognize talented players in their last year on the ballot. On average, players in their final year of eligibility see an increase of six per cent. Raines had better than 69 per cent of the vote last year.
If you add six per cent, you get to 75 per cent — the minimum requirement — and Tim Raines is a hall of famer.
If you're an Expos fan, or a Tim Raines fan, or you're Tim Raines, that's the hope this time.
Jonah Keri is the author of the New York Times bestseller Up, Up and Away, about the history of the Montreal Expos. He's also host of the appropriately named Jonah Keri podcast.